Andrew Clements

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Frindle: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

The first six periods of Nick's first day of fifth grade go by smoothly. He meets his teachers and chats with his friends. When he gets to Mrs. Granger's seventh period language arts class, however, the teacher is all business. She gives them a vocabulary pretest, makes them review their cursive writing skills, and shows the students how she expects them to format their assignments. Near the end of the period, Nick prepares to ask the "teacher-stopper," a question designed to distract teachers long enough to keep them from assigning homework. He's an expert at this and works hard to choose questions that play to his teachers' interests.
The nature of the teacher-stopper shows again that Nick has a nuanced understanding of how to manipulate the school system's hierarchy: by asking a teacher a question that prompts them to talk about their interests, a teacher may feel more powerful and respected. In actuality, however, the question deprives teachers of their power to actually teach and control the students, as it keeps them from performing essential duties of their jobs (i.e. assigning homework).
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Nick raises his hand and asks Mrs. Granger where all the words in the dictionaries come from. His classmates smile; they know what he's doing. Mrs. Granger seems to know too. She asks the class if they're curious about the answer—they are—and then asks Nick to do some research and prepare an oral presentation on the subject for the next class. She smiles and then assigns homework. Nick feels small and beaten. He thinks that everything he's heard about "The Lone Granger" is true.
When Nick's classmates know what he's doing, it suggests that they're already acting as a team to thwart Mrs. Granger and get out of homework. Mrs. Granger's ability to once again use the unity of the group to turn things around and make Nick accept her power shows that Nick is going to have to work much harder if he wants to best Mrs. Granger.
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