Killing Mr. Griffin is an incredibly suspenseful novel which takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is written in third person point of view. The protagonist of this thrilling novel is Susan McConnell. Susan is a loner and mostly stays home with her nose in the books.
She works hard at her studies and usually has no trouble with her teachers. But, Mr. Griffin is an exception. Mark Kinney, on the other hand, the antagonist, has already failed Mr. Griffin's class once. Mark's face is one that seldom changes expression, but his eyes become very bright and shiney when he has an idea.
This is the look he gets when he comes up with the crazy idea to kill Mr. Griffin. One would never call Mark handsome, but he does have a special beauty, so striking that it causes those around him to catch their breath. There are many other characters in this book who play a big role in the story. David Ruggles, handsome, popular and class president of the senior class, is in on the conspiracy.
Thought is not his idea, for some reason he allows himself to be persuaded by Mark in to joining the gang. This so-called gang includes Mark, of course, Betsy Cline, Jeff Garrett, and Susan M mcConnell who is also easily persuaded by Mark. Betsy, who is the head cheerleader and to everyone the most popular girl in school, doesn't care much for Mr. Griffin. She joins Mark in his plan only hoping e will go out with her. Betsy is dating Jeff Garrett, Mark's best friend, but only because she thinks it will bring her closer to Mark. Jeff is the star of the varsity basketball with basketball being his life.
He has been good friends with Mark since he first met him. He does almost anything Mark wants because he is easily persuaded. Other secondary character include Mr. Griffin, the strict English teacher who nobody like, Mrs. Griffin, his pregnant wife, Mrs. Ruggles, David's grandmother, and others. Mrs' Ruggles plays an important role because she steels a ring David gets off Griffin's finger once he dies. She keeps this to herself, and because of what she knows, she loses her life. The major conflict is between five troubled teenagers and their attempts to keep Griffin's death a secret.
After disposing of his body in an unkown area in the middle of nowhere, they take his credit cards and send them to a man Mark knows who lives far away. They figure that if every month a bill comes to Mrs. Griffin, people will assume he has just run off with some other woman. They also try to throw off the police by making Susan, who is was the last to see him at a conference before he disappeared, make up a story about him being impatient throughout the meeting and then seeing him with another woman. Adding to the plot of the story were also some minor conflicts; for instance, the struggle Mr. Griffin went through before he died, and the conflict between Sue and her conscience telling her to go to the police. The turning point of the novel is when Mark Kinney's ex-girlfriend finds Mr Griffin's prescription medicine in Mark and her old picnic spot.
The place in the woods had been a secret that they had found one day while on a hike. The falling action and climax is when Sue finally breaks down and tells the police. She endangers her own life and the lives of others by letting Mark Kinney know what she is planning to do. Mark, the messed up boy that he is, tries to kill Susan by setting fire to her house while her family is out for the evening. She is finally saved by Mr. Griffin's wife and Detective Baca. Because Susan is not actually involved in what took place in the woods with Griffin, she most likely is going to get off with little or no punishment.
Mark, however, is seperated from Jeff, Betsy, and David and must face three trials, one for Killing Mr. Griffin, one for what he attempted to do to Sue, and one for killing Mrs. Ruggles. The lawyer for the remaining three works hard to get the charges against them reduced to second degree murder. The theme of Killing Mr. Griffin is that those people who are strict and have the highest expectations for you are the ones who can most likely help you. Therefore, you should not try to change people with high standards to fit your lower standards. Instead, you should try to raise your own standards to match theirs. You should respect them and appreciate how they can help you without ruining them.