How to Read Literature like a Professor: Chapter 14

About Me

My name is Morgan Kleinhandler. I read chapter 14 of How to Read Literature like a Professor.


  1. Importance of Knowing about Various Religions
  2. Impacts Religion has on Literature
  3. Christianity in Literature
  4. Christ Figures

Chapter 14: "Yes, She's a Christ Figure, Too"

This chapter talks about being familiar with religions around the world in order for students to be able to understand literature more deeply. Specifically, it talks about the influence of Christianity in writing.

Learning about Other Cultures' Religions

Knowing about various religions from the region of the text you are reading:
  • Shows the reader deeper meanings in literature
  • Reveals reasons for an author's choice in text
  • Example: In Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane, knowing about South African beliefs prior to reading the book helped students understand reasons behind character actions.

Various Religious Impacts on Literature

  • Even if an author is not meaning to be influenced by regional beliefs, religion is so prominent in society the author most likely is.
  • Character choices, actions, or underlying morals are most likely influenced by religion.
  • The influence of religion on literature gives readers a common ground with the text

Specifically, Christianity in Literature

  • Many authors from America and Europe are influenced by Christianity and the Bible
  • Many pieces of literature portray "Christ Figures"
  • These figures are characters in a text that resembles Jesus Christ, or a part of him
  • Example: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Christ Figure Indicators

If a character has several of these characteristics, they are possibly being portrayed by the author as a Christ Figure.

  • "Crucified, wounds on hands feet, or sides
  • In agony
  • Self-sacrificing
  • Good with children
  • Good with loves, fish, water, wine
  • In his 30's
  • A wood worker
  • Has humble modes of transportation
  • Walked on water
  • Portrayed with arms outstretched
  • Spent time in the wilderness
  • Tempted by the Devil
  • Last seen in company of thieves
  • Creator of many aphorisms and parables
  • Buried, but arose
  • Had followers
  • Forgiving
  • Redeemed world" (Foster 65-6)
To be a Christ Figure, a character does not have to have these specific characteristics, but possibly an interpretation of a characteristic. In addition, character do not have to be Christian, or even be a good person to be portrayed as a Christ Figure.

Concepts Learned

  • Importance of knowledge of different religions: gives insight to reasons and deeper meanings
  • Religious impacts on literature: creates underlying morals, and reasons behind author's choices for chacter thoughts, actions, etc.
  • Christianity in literature: Plots, and Christian qualities used in texts
  • Christ Figures: Key indicators of Christ figures, but character does not have to embody Christ in all ways

Learning Strategy: Opinionnaire

  1. Get in groups and read excerpt provided.
  2. Discuss reading and compare it to the following concepts we learned, specifically the role of Christianity and Christ figures.
  3. Look back at original opinionnaire you filled out, and change your answers if necessary.
  4. Discuss with your group the reasoning behind your final answers.

Works Cited

Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines. New York: Quill, 2003. Print.

"How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines (Paperback)." Http:// N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Jesus Christ - Jesus of Nazareth - Son of God." Jesus Christ - Jesus of Nazareth - Son of God. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Kaffir Boy By Mark Mathabane." Today's Featured Discussions. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Religion and Literature." Religion and Literature. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 4 June 2006. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.