Study Guide

Marshall Ross in The Egypt Game

By Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Marshall Ross

Little Man

Marshall is only four years old, but he gets to hang out with the big kids because he's super mature for such a tiny tyke. None of the kids mind having him around because he doesn't act like a baby: he's perfectly happy to play big-kid games and is able to participate in most of the Egypt Game activities. Even his family has remarked on his odd maturity level:

"That's the way with Marshall," she said. "He's been awfully grown-up ever sinceoh, since about the time he started walking. That is, about everything except Security. I guess he's not very grown-up about that. Dad says the reason Marshall needs Security is that he had such a hard time being a baby. Dad says being a baby offended Marshall's dignity." (6.19)

Most babies don't even know that they're supposed to grow up to have dignity. According to Marshall's dad, there was enough old man in baby Marshall for him to have dignity to spare, even when all he could say was goo-goo-ga-ga.

Marshall's maturity also means that he can be very observant—more observant than people expect a four-year-old to be. That's why he is the only kid in the Egypt Game gang who notices that the Professor has been watching them.

And that's a good thing, because Marshall appeals to him for help when he and April are in mortal danger. And it's only because of the Professor calling for help that they escape the clutches of the child murderer in their neighborhood. Whew!

Thy Octopus's Keeper

Besides his maturity, Marshall's other defining characteristic is his total immaturity. More specifically, he simply cannot let go of his stuffed octopus, Security. Even when he's going into Egypt and trying to fit through the hole in the fence, he refuses to put down the stuffed animal, even for a minute:

He was only about four years old but he was sturdily built; moreover, he was clutching a large stuffed toy to his chest with both arms. He paid not the slightest attention to the demands of the two girls that he, "Turn loose of that thing for just a minute, can you?" and, "Let me hold Security for you just till you get through, Marshall." (1.12)

It's not that Marshall doesn't trust April and Melanie—it's just that Security is his most important belonging of all. And Marshall is stubborn when he makes up his mind, so no one can stop him from lugging Security around with him, let alone take the toy away from him. He'll stand his ground.

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