From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Quotes and Analysis

She was the oldest child and the only girl and was subject to a lot of injustice. Perhaps it was because she had to both empty the dishwasher and set the table on the same night while her brothers got out of everything.

Pg. 6

Occuring early in the novel, this quote presents Claudia's reasons for running away, especially the perceived injustice. Being made to do chores may be relatively frivolous, but might perhaps also a sign of gender discrimination that she will solve by doing a very unfeminine thing: running away.

Claudia had planned her speech. “I want you, Jamie, for the greatest adventure in our lives.” Jamie muttered, “Well, I wouldn’t mind if you’d pick on someone else.”

Pg. 13

Claudia finally plucks up the courage to tell her brother Jamie that she has decided he will be the one to accompany her on her adventure, and tells him that morning when they are on the bus together. Jamie, however, is less than enthused. The dichotomy between Claudia's grand statement and Jamie's grouchy refusal is indicative of the humor of the book.

If you think of doing something in New York City, you can be certain that at least two thousand other people have had the same thought. And of the two thousand who do, about one thousand will be standing in line waiting to do it

Pg. 50

During the first few days that Claudia and Jamie spend in the museum, they decide that they will spend a day touring every wing and learning all they can about the art. They head to the Renaissance wing, and find that a massive crowd has gathered.

This quote is an excellent observation of life in New York City; it paints an evocative picture of the scene that the characters find themselves in. It is also an important way of setting the scene for what Jamie and Claudia will soon deal with.

Both Jamie and Claudia had acquired a talent for being near but never part of a group. (Some people, Saxonberg, never learn to do that all their lives, and some learn it all too well.)

Pg. 66

In order to remain undetected in the museum day after day, Claudia and Jamie stay near enough to a group to avoid the suspicion of the museum guards, but not close enough to make the group itself wonder who these new faces are.

For Mrs. Frankweiler, who narrates the story, this becomes symbolic for the ways that people relate to one another. Some people never learn how to blend in to a crowd, while other people never seem to get close to anyone.

And in the course of those miles Claudia stopped regretting bringing Jamie along. His money and radio were not the only reasons. Manhattan called for the courage of at least two Kincaids.

Pg. 66

After sneaking off the schoolbus, the two children board a commuter train and head into the city. Previously, Claudia had been regretting her choice to invite Jamie - he decided to bring all of his money in the form of coins, which made a great deal of noise.

However, as she ponders her decision, Claudia is glad for Jamie's company, because this adventure will require more courage than she alone possesses. This incident also marks the first in a series of occurrences that bring Claudia and Jamie closer together.

“Someone very rich must have tossed in this quarter,” Jamie whispered.

“Someone very poor,” Claudia corrected. “Rich people have only penny wishes.”

Pg. 84

The children are taking a bath in the museum pool, and they are delighted to discover a host of unexpected riches: people have thrown countless coins into the pool. Claudia and Jamie now have a source of income to fund their adventure.

Claudia reasons that only poor people could face such troubles that they would be willing to sacrifice a whole quarter to solve them. Rich people are shielded from such difficulties, so they would only throw in a penny for a wish. This quotations is a great example of the maturity and precociousness exhibited by the two Kincaid children, who are often more intelligent and observant than one would guess from their age.

Claudia lowered her eyes to him and said, “Jamie, you know, you could go clear around the world and still come home wondering if the tuna fish sandwiches at Chock Full O’Nuts still cost thirty-five cents.”

Pg. 114

As the children are touring the United Nations, Claudia is inspired by the effortless glamour of an Indian woman, and tries to imitate her manner of speaking and walking. Jamie wonders what's wrong with her, asking if she has stomach cramps or something. Claudia is offended, and makes the above comment to Jamie.

In this quote, Claudia is suggesting that Jamie has no sense of wonder or understanding of the value of being different. He could travel around the world and come back exactly the same. However, like Jamie's assessment of Claudia below, it is not entirely accurate. Although Jamie's personality is more stable than Claudia's, he too is changed by his great adventure.

“You’re never satisfied, Claude. If you get all A’s, you wonder where are the pluses. You start out just running away, and you end up wanting to know everything. Wanting to be Joan of Arc, Clara Barton, and Florence Nightingown all in one.” “Nightingale,” Claudia sighed. She got up then and followed slowly behind her brother.

Pg. 121

After the children receive the disappointing letter informing them that the museum already knew all about the mark on the bottom of the statue, Claudia breaks down and weeps. She then reveals how determined she is to find out the truth about the statue. Jamie is rather puzzled by her behavior, and makes the comment above.

Claudia is indeed a high-strung and demanding person, who demands perfection in herself and others; this is encompassed by her trait of wondering where the pluses are when she gets A's. Jamie's assessment of Claudia's character is strengthened by her correction of his bungling of Florence Nightingale's name. However, like her comment to Jamie previously, this is not entirely correct: Claudia is relentless when pursuing a goal, but she is ultimately satisfied when she finds out the truth about Angel.

“The adventure is over. Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough. Except the part you carry with you. It’s the same as going on a vacation. Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures so that when they get home they can show their friends evidence that they had a good time. They don’t pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home.”

Pg. 140

When the children arrive in her home, Mrs. Frankweiler tries to get them to tell her where they have been hiding all week. Claudia in particular is extremely reluctant to tell her, saying that she is not sure her adventure is over yet. Mrs. Frankweiler replies that it is, except for the part that you carry with you.

In running away, Claudia was seeking a way to be different. Through her remarkable adventure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and her discovery of the truth about Angel, she has accomplished her goal. She will carry around the adventure with her for the rest of her life.

Secrets are the kind of adventure she needs. Secrets are safe, and they do much to make you different. On the inside where it counts.

Pg. 149

After the children are able to find her files, Mrs. Frankweiler explains that she will leave the document proving the authenticity of Angel to the children in her will. She knows that Jamie will keep quiet because he is well aware of the immense worth of the sketch, but Claudia will keep the secret because she likes to keep secrets.

Mrs. Frankweiler skillfully reads Claudia, whose driving motivation is to have a secret that will make her different. Claudia loves comfort too much to go on a real adventure, but secrets are an adventure of their own, a kind that appeals to Claudia.