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Russell Baker's Sketch of Mr. Fleagle

Passage from Russell Baker's "Growing Up"


Russell Baker's Sketch of Mr. Fleagle

Russell Baker

In this description of his high school English teacher, journalist Russell Baker relies on repetition to convey an overwhelming impression of dullness and, well, primness. The passage appears in Baker's memoir, Growing Up (1982).

Mr. Fleagle

from Growing Up* by Russell Baker

When our class was assigned to Mr. Fleagle for third-year English I anticipated another grim year in that dreariest of subjects. Mr. Fleagle was notorious among City students for dullness and inability to inspire. He was said to be stuffy, dull, and hopelessly out of date. To me he looked to be sixty or seventy and prim to a fault. He wore primly severe eyeglasses, his wavy hair was primly cut and primly combed. He wore prim vested suits with neckties blocked primly against the collar buttons of his primly starched white shirts. He had a primly pointed jaw, a primly straight nose, and a prim manner of speaking that was so correct, so gentlemanly, that he seemed a comic antique.

Selected Works by Russell Baker

  • Growing Up, memoir (1982)
  • The Good Times, memoir (1989)
  • Russell Baker's Book of American Humor, edited anthology (1993)
  • Looking Back, essays (2002)

* Russell Baker's memoir, Growing Up, was published by Congdon & Weed in 1982. It is currently available in a Signet paperback edition.

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