The title of the story is absurd but it has a lot of meaning in it. It is amplified with the story’s symbolism and means a lot of things. Phoenix is not just the name of a city situated in Arizona. According to Egyptian mythology, it is a bird that rises from its own ashes and takes rebirth. Phoenix is thus a symbol of regeneration and immortality. Thomas and victor too, like a Phoenix, travel to the city of Phoenix during the hot Arizona summer and step inside the trailer of Victor’s father just to reclaim and build that which has been lost once. Figuratively or literally, they to take the rebirth just like a Phoenix. So, the title is symbolic of the plot and bears a similar analogy with the mythology.
Gryphon is a monster with wings, having the head of an eagle and body of a lion. In the short story by Charles Baxter, Ms. Firenze refers to the Gryphon and states that she has seen the animal in real life. Gryphon is constituted from things of this world but many things combined together and no one achieves that unless they imagine about the creature. Similarly, Ms. Firenze feels that one must leave the world of concrete objects sometimes and travel to the wonderland – the land of creativity and imagination created of objects outside our world. So in this way, Gryphon may be important and very much suitable for the title of the story as it celebrates the spirit of the story.
The little boy’s experience with the word “griffin” changed his insight of life and he started imagining so many things and gradually understood the significance of imagination in life.
The child’s experience about Gryphon is so significant because it again makes a link with the core theme of the story. Gryphon is a tinge of a created world and Baxter never wanted Tommy to influence completely his readers, so he took the initiative to portray through Gryphon story that there are so many things beyond what we see and what we say.