Notes on Classic Literature

Robert Walton’s 

for the Christian High School Teacher

Having taught in Christian high schools for forty years, I have had the opportunity of teaching many subjects, including Bible courses and A.P. courses in English Literature and European History.  For six years I taught the Humanities program at The Christian Academy in Brookhaven, PA, which involved blended college-level courses for our top juniors and seniors – Church History and A.P. English for the juniors and A.P. European History and Senior Honors English for the seniors.  In the process of preparing these courses, I’ve accumulated notes on numerous works of literature, which I have continued to expand since. I’m sharing these here, hoping they will be of value to other teachers as well.

The notes include background information on the author, a summary of the plot, a list of characters, significant quotations from the book or play, and a series of essay prompts.  The first four of these can be found elsewhere on the Web, often in greater detail.  I hope the essay prompts, however, will provide a unique aid for teachers of English Literature.  The prompts are designed for five-paragraph essays, but may be adapted for longer or shorter writing assignments.  Because I was working with advanced students in a college-level environment, the questions deal with ideas and require thoughtful interaction with and analysis of the literature.  Some of the prompts require comparison of the work with other novels or plays.  In each set, a number of the questions ask the student to evaluate biblically the issue at hand or to support his or her arguments from Scripture.  You may find that the prompts not only help in designing writing assignments for your students, but also may give you ideas concerning how to think about the work of literature in question, thus suggesting stimulating approaches to class discussion.  I trust these labors will be of some use to others who seek to teach young people to analyze the world around them from a Christian perspective.

Current statistics:

Works of literature – 211

Essay prompts – 6986

Last three works added – Virgil’s Aeneid, Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

List of works by Title

List of works by Author

Have any comments or questions?  Find typos in the notes?  Would you like to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new work is added to the website?  If so, you may contact Bob Walton at: