Frindle

by

Andrew Clements

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Nick Allen Character Analysis

Nick is the ten-year-old protagonist of the novel. He's known for his big ideas, which he often deploys to annoy his teachers and undermine their power. Fifth grade, however, presents new challenges for Nick, as Mrs. Granger knows all of his tricks to evade homework and stall class, like asking open-ended questions about what words mean. Nick takes seriously Mrs. Granger's resulting assignment to research the history of the dictionary and turns it around on her—his presentation on the dictionary lasts almost the entire length of the class. When Mrs. Granger explains that all English speakers create the language and decide what words mean, Nick decides to test this by renaming pens "frindles." Within a few days, "frindle" catches on at school and Nick manages to "ruin" the fifth grade class photo by convincing every kid in his class to say "frindle" and hold out a pen. When Mrs. Granger tries to get Nick to stop, he feigns innocence and insists he's just putting her lessons into action. He takes a similar stance when Mrs. Chatham, the principal, comes to talk to his parents about the "frindle" business at school. Nick soon finds that fame comes with a great deal of responsibility. He becomes quiet and withdrawn as people expect him to be witty and funny all the time, and Nick starts to fear his big ideas and drawing attention to himself. It's not until Mrs. Granger assures Nick that he did nothing wrong and compliments his ideas that he regains his confidence. Ten years later, "frindle" enters the dictionary, and Nick gets access to the secret account Mr. Allen set up for the royalty money. Nick generously chooses to set up a scholarship fund in Mrs. Granger's name, using his fame to meaningfully help others.

Nick Allen Quotes in Frindle

The Frindle quotes below are all either spoken by Nick Allen or refer to Nick Allen. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Frindle published in 1996.
Chapter 1 Quotes

For the rest of Nick's fourth-grade year, at least once a week, Mrs. Avery heard a loud "peeeeep" from somewhere in her classroom—sometimes it was a high-pitched chirp, and sometimes it was a very high-pitched chirp.

Related Characters: Nick Allen, Janet Fisk, Mrs. Avery
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Nick was an expert at asking the delaying question—also known as the teacher-stopper, or the guaranteed time-waster. At three minutes before the bell, in that split second between the end of today's class work and the announcement of tomorrow's homework, Nick could launch a question guaranteed to sidetrack the teacher long enough to delay or even wipe out the homework assignment.

Related Characters: Nick Allen, Mrs. Granger
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

"But if all of us in this room decided to call that creature something else, and if everyone else did, too, then that's what it would be called, and one day it would be written in the dictionary that way. We decide what goes in that book." And she pointed at the giant dictionary.

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

Then when Nick went to preschool, he learned that if he wanted his teacher and the other kids to understand him, he had to use the word music. But gwagala meant that nice sound to Nick, because Nick said so. Who says gwagala means music? "You do, Nicholas."

Page Number: 34-35
Explanation and Analysis:

And when she asked, the lady reached right for the pens and said, "Blue or black?"

Nick was standing one aisle away at the candy racks, and he was grinning.

Frindle was a real world. It meant pen. Who says frindle means pen? "You do, Nicholas."

Related Characters: Nick Allen, Mrs. Granger, Janet Fisk
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

But that just made everyone want to use Nick's new word even more. Staying after school with The Lone Granger became a badge of honor. There were kids in her classroom every day after school. It went on like that for a couple of weeks.

Related Characters: Nick Allen, Mrs. Granger
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

"I don't think there's anything wrong with it. It's just fun, and it really is a real word. It's not a bad word, just different. And besides, it's how words really change, isn't it? That's what you said."

Related Characters: Nick Allen (speaker), Mrs. Granger
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

"The word pen has a long, rich history. It comes from the Latin word for feather, pinna. It started to become our word pen because quills made from feathers were some of the first writing tools ever made. It's a word that comes from somewhere. It makes sense, Nicholas."

“But frindle makes just as much sense to me,” said Nick. “And after all, didn’t somebody just make up the word pinna, too?”

That got a spark from Mrs. Granger’s eyes …

Related Characters: Nick Allen (speaker), Mrs. Granger (speaker)
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

And the next day, all the fifth graders did it again, and so did a lot of other students—over two hundred kids.

Parents called to complain. The school bus drivers threatened to go on strike. And then the school board and the superintendent got involved.

Related Characters: Nick Allen, Mrs. Granger, Mrs. Chatham
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Nick shook his head. "I can't, Dad. It won't work. It's a real word now. It used to be just mine, but not anymore."

Related Characters: Nick Allen (speaker), Mrs. Chatham, Mr. Allen
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

A boy who was almost falling over from the weight of his backpack looked up at her and smiled. "It's not so bad. There's always a bunch of my friends there. I've written that sentence six hundred times now."

Related Characters: Nick Allen, Mrs. Granger, Judy Morgan
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Or this bit about Nick: "Everyone agrees that Nick Allen masterminded this plot that cleverly raises issues about free speech and academic rules. He is the boy who invented the new word."

Related Characters: Judy Morgan (speaker), Nick Allen, Mrs. Granger
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

He could feel it when someone recognized him, and it made him shy and awkward.

Kids at school started expecting him to be clever and funny all the time, and even for a kid as smart as Nick, that was asking a lot.

Related Characters: Nick Allen
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

"I have always said that the dictionary is the finest tool ever made for educating young minds, and I still say that. Children need to understand that there are rules about words and language, and that those rules have a history that makes sense. And to pretend that a perfectly good English word can be replaced by a silly made-up word just for the fun of it, well, it's not something I was ready to stand by and watch without a fight."

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen, Alice Lunderson
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

"Well," said Nick, "The funny thing is, even though I invented it, it's not my word anymore. Frindle belongs to everyone now, and I guess everyone will figure out what happens together."

Related Characters: Nick Allen (speaker), Mrs. Granger, Mrs. Allen, Mr. Allen, Alice Lunderson
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

But then Nick remembered what had happened with frindle. It stopped him cold. He was sure that if all the kids stopped buying lunch, sooner or later someone would figure out that it was all Nick Allen's idea. He would get in trouble. People would write about it in the newspaper. The principal would call his parents—anything could happen.

Related Characters: Nick Allen
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Quotes

I see now that this is the kind of chance that a teacher hopes for and dreams about—a chance to see bright young students take an idea they have learned in a boring old classroom and put it to a real test in their own world.

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

So many things have gone out of date. But after all these years, words are still important. Words are still needed by everyone. Words are used to think with, to write with, to dream with, to hope and pray with. And that is why I love the dictionary. It endures. It works. And as you now know, it also changes and grows.

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Frindle LitChart as a printable PDF.
Frindle PDF

Nick Allen Character Timeline in Frindle

The timeline below shows where the character Nick Allen appears in Frindle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Nick
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At Lincoln Elementary School, Nick Allen is a kid in a category all to himself—he's not an exclusively good kid,... (full context)
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A year later, Nick learned that red wing blackbirds make high-pitched noises that confuse birds of prey. The next... (full context)
Chapter 2: Mrs. Granger
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In August, before fifth grade begins, Nick's parents get a letter from Mrs. Granger. It reads that every student is expected to... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Question
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The first six periods of Nick's first day of fifth grade go by smoothly. He meets his teachers and chats with... (full context)
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Nick raises his hand and asks Mrs. Granger where all the words in the dictionaries come... (full context)
Chapter 4: Word Detective
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As Nick stares down his report and the list of 35 vocabulary words that Mrs. Granger assigned,... (full context)
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Nick begins by looking up the vocabulary words in the dictionary, which takes him an hour.... (full context)
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Nick heads downstairs to the family room, finds the set of children's encyclopedias, and looks up... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Report
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Nick has a pit in his stomach by lunch the next day. He knows he'll have... (full context)
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Nick talks about Samuel Johnson, who created the first modern English dictionary in the 1700s. Kids... (full context)
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Nick pulls his homework dictionary out of his bag and explains that there's a lot of... (full context)
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Finally, Mrs. Granger cuts Nick off. She compliments him on his report and says that the information will mean more... (full context)
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...eight minutes left in the period, she squeezes in an entire day's worth of work. Nick doesn't try to stop her. (full context)
Chapter 6: The Big Idea
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Later that afternoon, Nick and Janet walk home together. They walk one after the other on the edge of... (full context)
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Nick thinks of Mrs. Granger saying that he says that words mean what they do. He... (full context)
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Absorbed in his thoughts, Nick bumps into Janet, knocking her off the curb and sending the gold pen flying. Nick... (full context)
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The next afternoon, Nick walks into a corner store and asks the lady behind the counter for a frindle.... (full context)
Chapter 7: Word Wars
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The next day, right as the bell starting seventh period rings, Nick raises his hand and informs Mrs. Granger that he forgot his frindle. One of Nick's... (full context)
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Mrs. Granger holds up her favorite maroon pen and explains that she's talking about pens. Nick makes sure his eyes are wide and blank as he insists that he honestly did... (full context)
Chapter 8: Mightier than the Sword
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...are two days later. The fifth grade class gets their picture taken last, which gives Nick and his friends time to whisper something to all of their classmates. After the photographer... (full context)
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This gets everyone at Lincoln Elementary using Nick's new word, which they all like a lot. The day after the school photo, Mrs.... (full context)
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Finally, at the end of seventh period one day, Mrs. Granger asks Nick to talk for a moment. Nick feels like a general participating in a war conference.... (full context)
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Nick innocently says that "frindle" makes sense too and points out that someone probably made up... (full context)
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The next day, one of Nick's friends suggests that they get every fifth grader to ask Mrs. Granger directly for a... (full context)
Chapter 9: Chess
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...Allen and Mrs. Allen on October first to set up the meeting, she asks that Nick be there as well. Nick answers the door when she arrives that evening and greets... (full context)
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Mr. Allen looks embarrassed, but Nick thinks Mrs. Allen looks annoyed. When Mrs. Chatham is finished, Mrs. Allen says that it... (full context)
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Mr. Allen expresses agreement with Mrs. Chatham's reasoning, but Nick speaks up and notes that even "ain't" is in the dictionary; if a word is... (full context)
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Nick begins to think of the whole thing as a chess game. Mrs. Chatham is Mrs.... (full context)
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Mr. Allen and Mrs. Allen talk to Nick after Mrs. Chatham leaves. Nick explains that he didn't intend to be disrespectful, but all... (full context)
Chapter 10: Freedom of the Press
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...out of favor in due course, though she does tell Judy that a student named Nicholas Allen started the whole thing. (full context)
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..."frindle" for "pen" every few sentences. Judy asks if there's any possibility of speaking to Nick Allen, and one boy says Nick doesn't want to say anything wrong and get in... (full context)
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...that all the kids are holding pens. Someone wrote on the back which kid is Nick. Judy recognizes him as the boy who spoke to her in the parking lot. (full context)
Chapter 11: Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
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...the way she writes about the conflict fires up the entire town. She writes that Nick is raising issues of free speech and academic rules, while Mrs. Granger is the champion... (full context)
Chapter 12: Airwaves
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...the kids at the Westfield high school and middle school have all started using "frindle." Nick becomes a hero overnight but soon discovers that fame comes at a price. He can... (full context)
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...crew arrive at the Allens' house, Mr. Allen and Mrs. Allen are ready. They squish Nick on the couch between them and Mrs. Allen puts her foot on top of Nick's.... (full context)
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Mrs. Allen steps on Nick's foot when Alice asks if Nick was surprised when Mrs. Granger reacted with anger to... (full context)
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Bud's lawyer, however, tells Bud that there will be complications since Nick Allen actually made up the word and everyone in the country knows it. The lawyer... (full context)
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Bud compliments Mr. Allen on Nick's ingenuity and sees his opportunity when Mr. Allen admits that he's ready for the fuss... (full context)
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...contract and the trademark papers. Before he leaves, Bud hands Mr. Allen a check for $2,250—Nick's cut of the proceeds from "frindle" sales in the first three weeks. Mr. Allen is... (full context)
Chapter 13: Ripples
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...Bud Lawrence sells shirts, sunglasses, erasers, and notebooks. He deposits bigger and bigger checks into Nick's account and eventually opens a factory in Westfield to make frindle-branded baseball caps. In March,... (full context)
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...on every single spelling test. Every student gets it wrong, as they write "frindle" instead. Nick enjoys the fame for a few weeks and tells his friends about riding in limos... (full context)
Chapter 14: Inside Nick
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Though Nick looks exactly the same on the outside, his experience with "frindle" makes him fear his... (full context)
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However, Nick remembers what happened with "frindle," and he fears that people will figure out that it... (full context)
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Near the end of the school year, Nick remembers the letter that Mrs. Granger wrote. He figures that she forgot about it since... (full context)
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Mrs. Granger approaches Nick. They're almost the same height, and Nick notices that her eyes are soft but still... (full context)
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Because of Mrs. Granger's talk, Nick is able to find pride in what he did with "frindle." He enjoys thinking about... (full context)
Chapter 15: And the Winner Is...
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When Nick is a junior in college, two important things happen. First, he turns 21 and gains... (full context)
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Second, Nick receives a package from Mrs. Granger one day in November. In the package is an... (full context)
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Nick picks up the envelope and pulls out Mrs. Granger's letter. She opens by congratulating him,... (full context)
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Nick thinks back to Mrs. Granger's eyes and understands what some of her looks had meant.... (full context)
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...object belongs to Mrs. Granger, and she can call it what she wants. It's from Nick Allen. (full context)