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How to Read Literature Like a Professor

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1 How to Read Literature Like a Professor
“Yes, She’s a Christ figure too” Kayla Kimbrel

2 Christian Culture Because we live in a culture where Christianity is prominent, symbols and themes of Christianity often make their way into literature. Often it is necessary to gain knowledge about the traditions of the prominent religion (whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) of a piece of literature in order to understand key points the writer tries to make. Sometimes it is necessary to put aside you beliefs in order to understand the writer. Main idea: learn as much as possible about the type of traditions and customs that are associated with the literature. In this case, you need to be able to understand the religious system by which the character in the story lives.

3 Some Items That Symbolize Christianity
Crucified, wounds in the hands, feet, side, and head Self-sacrificing Employed as a carpenter Known to have spent time alone in the wilderness Creator of many aphorisms and parables Buried, but arose on the third day Very forgiving Came to redeem an unworthy world

4 Example from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
“Somehow he can endure this whole episode, which lasts three days and which finally makes it seem to those on land that he’s dead. His great fish is ruined by sharks, but he manages to drag this huge ruined skeleton back to port. His return is like a resurrection. He has to walk up a hill from the water to his shack, and he carried his mast, which looks like a man carrying a cross from a certain point of view. Then he lies on his bed, exhausted by his struggles, his arms thrown out in the position of crucifixion, showing his damaged, raw hands. And the next morning, when people see the great fish, even the doubters begin to believe in him again. He brings a kind of hope, a kind of redemption…” (Hemingway).

5 Do all Christ-like characters have to have all of these traits?
No. They do not always have to be male, Christian, or even good. However, if the character is a certain age, behaves a certain way, put in certain situations, or suffers a certain way, it could mean the character is somehow symbolizing Christ.

6 You Might Be a Christ Figure Is You Are…
33 years old Unmarried, preferably celibate Wounded or marked in the hands, feet, or side Sacrificing yourself in some way for others (doesn’t have to be a willing sacrifice) In some sort of wilderness, tempted there, accosted by the devil

7 Use Your Imagination If no imagination is applied to reading literature, the character that is a Christ figure is just an ordinary person living out their life. However, don’t let your imagination run away with some kind of story it made up on its own. That is writing, not reading and comprehending. Rule of thumb is that if you can make three or four comparisons between Christ and a character, you can assume that the character is a Christ figure. The only way to understand why the writer is including a Christ figure is to use your imagination.

8 Why are there Christ figures?
The writer may want to enforce a certain point. It makes the reader realize the importance of the character’s sacrifice The story may be based on the idea of hope, redemption, or a miracle. Also, it can make the character look smaller rather than more important. (The character is not prideful or a “big whig” in the story; he is humble and flies under the radar.)

9 Works Cited Foster, Thomas. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: Harper, Print.

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