What Is the Climax of "Miss Awful"?

A potted plant is at the heart of the children's revenge scheme.
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In the short story "Miss Awful," by Arthur Cavanaugh, a group of third graders gets a stern disciplinarian for a substitute after their easy-going teacher has to go out of town on a family matter. After a week of marching drills, punishment homework and rebukes from their teacher, the students start to plan their revenge.

1 Change of Heart

The climax of the story takes place when Miss Orville -- the teacher's real name -- tells the students that their regular teacher will be returning on Monday and that that day will be her last day with them. With that revelation, the children begin to defy her rules by slouching in class, talking back to her and taking action without first getting permission. The children plan their revenge at lunch and take it in the form of stripping the leaves off Miss Orville's beloved classroom plant. It is that action that prompts Miss Orville to share her thoughts on the gift that is education and why it is that she teaches, causing the story's protagonist, Roger, to understand that he had not judged her fairly.

  • 1 Mrs. Cazzetto's Classroom: "Miss Awful," By Arthur Cavanaugh

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.