43 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

The Teacher's Funeral

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade

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Character Analysis

Russell Culver

Fifteen-year-old Russell is the first-person narrator of The Teacher’s Funeral. Russell has a witty, good-hearted sense of humor. He enjoys playing pranks on his brother and sister and appreciates telling a joke or funny story. Russell is a skilled storyteller. He utilizes figurative language and colorful description to create vivid word pictures: portraying everything from everyday chores to the beauty of the natural world around him with lively detail. Describing his night camping with Lloyd, for instance, Russell paints a picture of “a bloodred moon on the rise through the sycamores while purple light still faded in the west” (16). Russell has a pronounced sense of poetry and romance, fueled by the names of the mighty threshers, like the “Pitts Challenger,” and “Geiser Peerless” (10).

Under Miss Myrt’s instruction, Russell failed to pass his eighth-grade graduation exam. Russell despises school, and views it as a prison. School is an obstacle to his independence, freedom, and his transition to manhood. Russell is impatient to escape the juvenile confines of school and farm life. He does not value education and does not want anything to hold him back. He tells Charlie, “You wait for every last thing to get done, you won’t go anywhere in this life” (114).