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Best Books: Grade 8–Grade 12

"Live always in the best company when you read," said Sydney Smith, a nineteenth-century clergyman. But how does one determine what is "best" when choosing books for young people? Good books, like good companions, should broaden a student's world, encourage him to appreciate what is lovely, and help him discern between truth and falsehood. These three concepts undergird the choices we have made for Best Books. The works listed in the general bibliographies are intended for recreational reading and focus on the first two ideas. The two sections titled "Books for Analysis and Discussion," one for grades 6-8 and another for grades 8-12, focus on the third concept and are included for the distinct purpose of helping students develop discernment. The annotated bibliographies as well as the final section, "Guidelines for Choosing Books," will provide valuable insight and help clarify how the works in these two sections might be used.

Aldrich, Bess Streeter. A Lantern in Her Hand. 1928. The American prairie settler's life is seen in the life of Abbie Deal, a devoted wife and mother, who helps to bring a large family through hardships.

Austen, Jane. Emma. 1816. This is the story of a girl whose matchmaking attempts meet with little success and yet who becomes endeared to the reader.

---. Mansfield Park. 1814. This is an intriguing story about Fanny Price who, although materially poor, is morally superior to the more wealthy owners of Mansfield Park.

---. Persuasion. 1818. This is Austen's last completed novel. The heroine, Anne Elliott, and the hero, Captain Wentworth, must overcome myriad social obstacles before their eventual marriage.

---. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. The gradual union of two people comes about after pride and prejudice are no longer paramount obstacles.

---. Sense and Sensibility. 1811. The two heroines of this story, Elinor and Marriane Dashwood, find themselves fatherless and penniless and defrauded of a more substantial income by their stepbrother John Dashwood. Their circumstances change, however, when the two fall in love with two handsome and dashing young men.

Bjorn, Thyra Ferre. Papa's Wife. 1976. A Swedish pastor marries a Swedish girl and eventually they move to America. This is the amusing story of their family life.

Blackmore, Richard D. Lorna Doone. 1896. The romance between John Ridd and Lorna of the outlaw Doones is set in seventeenth century England.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 1847. The orphan Jane Eyre works as a governess to Mr. Rochester's ward and lives through some unusual circumstances and heartaches.

Brown, Liane I. Refuge. BJU Press, 1987. This is a true story of steadfast faith amidst the horror of the Russian occupation of Germany during the close of the Second World War.

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Sonnets from the Portuguese. 1850. These poems were written over a period of seven years. They were likely inspired by the author's love for her husband, Robert Browning.

Catton, Bruce. Banners at Shenandoah. 1976. This is the story of a young boy's adventures as he rides in the Union cavalry.

Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote. 1605. This humorous story about a bumbling Spanish knight is a classic satire on chivalry.

Collins, David R. Abraham Lincoln. 1976. A simple biography of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-65.

Note: Readers can enjoy each of the following five books in the Leatherstocking tales as a story that stands by itself. These books are listed in series order as well as in alphabetical order.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Deerslayer. 1841. Natty Bumppo, brought up by Delaware Indians, fights against the Hurons and defends settler Tom Hutter's family from attack. This is the first of the Leatherstocking Tales.

---. The Last of the Mohicans. 1826. Second in the series of five Leatherstocking Tales, this book deals with Natty Bumppo and the last of the Iroquois aristocracy.

---. The Pathfinder. 1840. Natty Bumppo is forty years old in this, the third of the Leatherstocking Tales. Pathfinder and others defeat the Iroquois.

---. The Pioneers. 1823. Natty Bumppo, in this sequel to The Pathfinder, is an older man who lives by the laws of nature and clashes with the new laws of civilization.

---. The Prairie. 1827. This last Leatherstocking Tale relates the last days of Natty Bumppo. He spends the end of his life as a trapper, constantly helping people.

Defoe, Daniel. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. 1719. The tale of a man marooned on an island many years before being rescued.

Dick, Lois Hoadley. False Coin, True Coin. BJU Press, 1993. Whom should Cissy believe? Her father, maker of counterfeit coins? Or John Bunyan, the prisoner who dares to speak of a loving God?

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. 1849-50. In this largely autobiographical work, David is sent by his harsh stepfather to London to work.

---. Great Expectations. 1860-61. Pip finds that he is to be related to a gentleman of "great expectations" due to an unknown benefactor.

---. Nicholas Nickleby. 1838-39. Nicholas Nickleby and his sister Kate are left penniless upon their father's death. Their only option is to seek the aid of their uncle, Ralph Nickleby, a shrewd and evil man.

---. Oliver Twist. 1837-38. Oliver falls into the hands of ruffians who train him to be a pickpocket. He attempts to escape from this way of life.

---. A Tale of Two Cities. 1859. The story, set in London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution, centers on the physical likeness of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton and their love for the beautiful Lucie Manetta.

Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo. 1845. Translated in 1846. Edmond Dantes gains a fortune and becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, but this change of circumstances is only the beginning of his adventures.

---. The Three Musketeers. 1844. Translated in 1846. The exploits of these young heroes are presented in a world of political intrigue, court life, and dueling.

Eliot, George. Silas Marner. 1861. Silas, despairing after being falsely accused of theft, raises a baby girl and through her love becomes a kind man again.

Goldsmith, Oliver. The Vicar of Wakefield. 1768. The novel, a romance of rural England in the thirteenth century, recounts the tribulations of a gentle but gullible vicar.

Hale, Edward Everett. The Man Without a Country. 1976. Officer Philip Nolan, tried for his part in the Aaron Burr conspiracy, declares that he wishes he had never heard of the United States. The court sentence grants his request.

Hautiz, Esther. The Endless Steppe. 1968. This is the moving story of a Polish deportee's imprisonment in a Siberian camp.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Great Stone Face and Other Tales of the White Mountains. 1889. These tales and sketches of the White Mountains are among the most widely read of Hawthorne's works.

---. The House of the Seven Gables. 1851. A troubled family of Puritan New England deals with an inherited curse. Hawthorne deals with the consequences of past sins.

---. The Marble Faun. 1860. The fall of Adam is portrayed amidst the ruins and art treasures of Rome.

Hess, Donna. In Search of Honor: BJU Press, 1991. Jacques Chenier struggles to free himself from the prison of his own bitterness as the French Revolution sweeps Paris toward anarchy.

Hilton, James. Good-bye, Mr: Chips. 1935. This involves a character study of a teacher who was devoted to his students as he served three generations.

Hole, Dorothy. Margaret Thatcher: Britain's Prime Minister. 1990. An interesting biography that also provides an intriguing glimpse into Britain's system of government and its whirlwind political life.

Hunt, Irene. Across Five Aprils. 1964. This story, set during the Civil War, centers on nine-year-old Jethro Creighton and the many decisions that are forced on him during this time of political and social upheaval.

---. Up a Road Slowly. 1966. A touching story about a young girl's farm life from seven to seventeen. She has many problems, starting with her mother's death. The book ends as the girl successfully graduates from high school.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 1820. Ichabod Crane vies with Brom Bones for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel and encounters the headless horseman.

Jones, Bob. Daniel of Babylon. BJU Press, 1984. The Old Testament contains no more thrilling history than that of Daniel, the statesman and prophet. In this novel the stories of the faithful, courageous Daniel come to life in the form of an imaginary journal, as Daniel might have written it.

Kingsley, Charles. Westward, Ho! 1982. This romance of sixteenth century England and South America shows the Great Armada in battle and tells of Drake and Raleigh as they sail the seas in search of treasure for Queen Elizabeth.

Kipling, Rudyard. Captains Courageous. 1897. A series of unexpected events forces a pampered American youth to work for his living. The experience, though difficult, proves to be invaluable in helping the boy mature into manhood.

Ludwig, Charles. Champion of Freedom. 1987. A compelling biographical novel of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the influence of her most noted work Uncle Tom's Cabin.

---. Defender of the Faith. 1988. A fascinating biography of the memorable Queen Victoria of England.

Nordhoff, Charles, and Hall, James N. Mutiny on the Bounty; Men Against the Sea; Pitcairn's Island. 1946. The Bounty trilogy, a tale of dramatic and sometimes violent action, deals with the voyage of the Bounty to the South Pacific and the mutiny of its crew against Captain Bligh.

Nye, Julie. Every Perfect Gift. Bob Jones University, 1990. An unwanted stepmother helps Sheri James realize that gifts from God take many forms.

Orczy, Baroness Emmuska. The Scarlet Pimpernel. The Scarlet Pimpernel heads a band of Englishmen who assist French aristocrats trying to flee France during the Reign of Terror.

Repp, Gloria. Night Flight. BJU Press, 1991. In this sequel to The Stolen Years, Kelly Johnson puzzles over mysterious happenings in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

---. The Stolen Years. BJU Press, 1989. David must find his family's silver pistols and overcome the bitterness of his grandfather.

Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe. 1819. The Norman Conquest is only the beginning of adventures for Wilfred, the Knight of Ivanhoe.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Black Arrow. 1888. Dick Shelton overcomes the schemes of many to win the hand of an orphaned heiress, Joanna Smedley, during the times of the English War of the Roses in the fifteenth century.

---. Kidnapped. n.d. David Balfour, a Whig and Lowlander, becomes involved in the uprising in favor of Prince Charles and the Stuarts in 1745.

Thomson, Andy. Morning Star of the Reformation. BJU Press, 1988. A fictionalized biography of John Wycliffe, set in medieval England. Readers will share in Wycliffe's student days at Oxford University and see him work toward his goal of translating the Bible into English for all Englishmen to read.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. 1966. Tolkien's elegant style and charming characterizations make this fantasy a classic. The unassuming Bilbo Baggins finds himself the unwilling warrior in the fight between good and evil.

Tunis, John R. Iron Duke. 1938. Jim Wellington, a high school graduate from the Midwest, goes to Harvard and experiences difficulties and disappointments. Then as a junior, he breaks the intercollegiate record for the two-mile run, and his values are strengthened.

Wallace, Lew. Ben-Hur. 1901. A historical romance during the time of Christ, this work describes in detail Roman and Jewish history.

Watkins, Dawn. Zoli's Legacy I: Inheritance. BJU Press, 1991. Zoli battles poverty, his father's displeasure, and his own pride in order to get an education.

---. Zoli's Legacy II: Bequest. BJU Press, 1991. Zoli takes over an orphanage of thirty boys as Hungary is drawn into World War II.

Yates, Elizabeth. Hue & Cry. BJU Press, 1991. Jared Austin's deaf daughter, Melody, befriends a young Irish immigrant who has stolen a horse.

---. The Journeyman. BJU Press, 1990. Jared Austin's quiet life is changed forever when a journeyman painter comes to visit.

Books for Analysis and Discussion

Note: The following books could be used on the high school level for developing literary skills and spiritual discernment. Before being recommended, however, each book should be previewed by a parent or teacher to determine its value for the individual student. The student's reading should be followed by a guided discussion in which the story is interpreted and evaluated using sound literary and biblical principles. (For additional information on evaluating books with these purposes in mind, see pp. 157-66.)

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. This compelling classic well illustrates the essential selfishness of unbridled human passions and the ultimate destructiveness of such passions. The two central characters, Catherine and Heathcliff, are fatally flawed characters without moral compunction, characters whose self-absorption and cynicism dominate the story's action and move it toward its inevitable, tragic resolution.

Christopher, John. White Mountain, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire. 1967. The Tripod trilogy, comprised of these three titles, are well-written science fiction tales. All of the stories have an overall positive moral tone. There are, however, some points that should be addressed in the context of each book (stealing/lying during wartime).

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. 1895. This classic war story is a vivid portrayal of a Civil War soldier's initiation into the horrors of battle. The imagery and symbolism serve as a powerful reinforcement of the story's naturalistic theme and provide an excellent opportunity to discuss and evaluate the views of naturalism in light of biblical truth.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl. 1952. This true account is a powerful, interesting epiphany story for girls. Some of the more serious issues covered will prove most valuable if followed by guided discussion.


Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge. 1886. This story provides an excellent opportunity for discussing the pessimistic view of life which is a logical outgrowth of man's refusal to acknowledge God and His relationship to man. According to Joyce Kilmer, "In no other writing is Hardy more clearly a fatalist than in The Mayor of Casterbridge; in no other book does he urge more unmistakably his belief that men and women are helpless puppets in the hands of mischievous fate, that good-will and courage and honesty are brittle weapons for humanity's defence." Whether or not we agree with Kilmer that this work is Hardy's most fatalistic, we can at least concur that the marks of his fatalism are deeply etched on the Casterbridge characters he creates. The intricate circumstances-and coincidencesthat shape this book all point to a dominant theme which is explicitly summarized in the concluding description of the heroine's viewpoint: "Her experience had been of a kind to teach her, rightly or wrongly, ... that happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain."

---. Tess of the D' Urbervilles. 1891. Considered by many to be Hardy's most readable novel, Tess of the D' Urbervilles provides a good illustration of the author's pessimistic philosophy and his scorn for what he considered the moral rigidness of Victorian England. Tess, the heroine of the story, is portrayed by Hardy as a victim of fate thrust into one tragic circumstance after another. Through Tess's story, Hardy makes clear his belief that there is no "moral design" which shapes our lives. We are, according to Hardy, pawns in a tragic drama which is played out in utter disregard for individual happiness or betterment. The story provides a good opportunity to discuss the ultimate despair which must result from those who hold such views. Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter would provide an interesting contrast to Hardy's book.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter: 1850. In this work Hawthorne analyzes the effects of sin in the lives of three intriguing Puritan characters. These three, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth, weave a dramatic, unforgettable tale. The moral tone of the work is positive; however, due to the poignant theme, this story would prove most valuable if followed by guided discussion and analysis.

Howells, William Dean. The Rise of Silas Lapham. 1885. This Howells classic has been called "the first important novel to center on an American businessman and to treat its theme with a realism that was to foreshadow the work of modem writers." The story's central character, Silas Lapham, is a self-made man whose ambition leads him to risk his personal fortune and family happiness for status in a society that scorns him. Unlike many other modem American writers, Howells allows this protagonist to recognize his folly before being destroyed. The book provides an excellent opportunity for discussing the corrupting power of wealth and the social and ethical conflicts which emerge when such corruption goes unchecked.

Hugo, Victor. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 1831. Religious, city, cultural, and criminal life are portrayed in the gothic romance set in medieval times. The drama of the story centers on the faithful hunchback Quasimodo and the innocent, steadfast Esmeralda. There are a few objectionable elements which would need to be addressed.

---. Les Miserables. 1862. This intriguing story, set in early nineteenth-century France, contrasts the consequences of repentance and restoration with the effects of bitterness and revenge. Although the overall moral tone of the book is positive, there are a few objectionable elements in the story which should be addressed.

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. 1898. This is a fascinating psychological tale which provides ample opportunity for discussion of tone and technique. As is characteristic of James, he begins the story with an intriguing situation. A young governess is employed to take charge of a wealthy man's niece and nephew. The man gives the girl only one instruction-take complete charge of the children so that he will not, under any circumstance, have to be disturbed. When the children (seemingly charming, innocent, and polite) and their governess (seemingly competent, sensitive, and loving) first meet, there is every indication that they are perfectly matched. As the story unfolds, however, James weaves an increasingly intricate and mysterious web of circumstances, the resolution of which cannot be easily confined to a single interpretation. Consequently, the novel provides an excellent opportunity for studying and discussing several key literary techniques among which are the importance of viewpoint, the use of foreshadowing, and the function of ambiguity as a literary device in creating this mysterious, unsettling tale.

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. 1960. This psychologically intriguing story is about two very different adolescents. Gene is an introverted, brooding intellectual. His friend, Phineas, is a handsome, idealistic daredevil. On the surface, these schoolboys are the best of friends. As the story unfolds, however, we see the dark struggle that lies beneath the shining surface of their friendship. The story of these two boys can provide valuable discussion on the tragic consequences of jealousy, self-absorption, and self-deception.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960. This story provides an opportunity for discussion of racial prejudice as well as prejudice against the unfamiliar or "abnormal." The overall tone of the story is positive. However, there are some objectionable elements (e.g., attitudes toward religion) which need to be discussed in the context of the story and evaluated in light of biblical truth.

Note: Readers can enjoy each of the three books in the Space trilogy as a story that stands by itself. These books are listed in series order as well as alphabetical order.

Lewis, C. S. Out of the Silent Planet. 1938. The biblical allusions and the intense, realistically portrayed struggle between good and evil make Lewis's Space trilogy (including this story and the following two) most valuable when followed by guided discussion. In this first book of Lewis's Space trilogy, Dr. Ransom is kidnapped and finds himself on the way to Malacandra (Mars).

---. Perelandra. 1943. In this second book of the trilogy, Lewis recounts the voyage to an unfallen planet (Venus) taken by a Christian and his evil companion. Amoral struggle ensues when the two men arrive on the planet and try to convince the inhabitants of their individual viewpoints.

---. That Hideous Strength. 1945. This last volume of the trilogy recounts the plan of men who are intent upon turning man into has own god. This book as the culmination of the battle between good and evil which has been carried through the series.

Lipsyte, Robert. The Contender: 1967. A good moral tone makes this coming-of-age story a profitable one if followed by guided discussion. Alfred Brooks, a high school dropout, as scared. Has job at a local grocery store seems to be a dead end. More frightening, however, as the fact that has best friend as sinking further and further into drug addiction and that a gang of street kids are after ham for something he didn't do. So, Alfred begins going to Donatelli's Gym, a boxing club an Harlem that has trained champions. It as at Donatelli's that he learns "it's the effort, not the wan, that makes the man."

London, Jack. Call of the Wild. 1903. Irking Stone an has noted biography states, "Jack's four intellectual grandparents were Darwin, Spencer, Marx, and Nietzsche." In this classic arctic tale, London illustrates the truth of Irving's observation. A careful analysis and guided discussion of the work are especially valuable an providing concrete illustrations of Darwinian and Nietzschean ideas (e.g.., survival of the fattest and the concept of the "superman").

Note: Although all of MacDonald's works are enjoyable and inspirational, those reading them should note that in several of his works for older readers the theological concepts presented (e.g.., salvation through faith in the shed blood of Christ) are ambiguous at best and should be addressed when included as part of the story.

MacDonald, George. The Baronet's Song. 1879. Edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1983. This as a powerful, inspirational tale about a deaf, mute orphan named Gabby whose talents, courage, and compassion wan the hearts of all he meets.

---. The Baron's Apprenticeship. 1891. Edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1986. A companion to The Lady's Confession, this story recounts the adventures, growth, and amazing discoveries of the bookbinding apprentice Richard Tyke.

---. The Fight of the Shadow. Edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1983. Set in Scotland's beautifully wild highlands, the central characters of this spellbinding tale fight to overcome the most frightening evil of all, the evil of a depraved heart.

---. The Fisherman's Lady. 1875. Edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1982. A gothic tale set in Scotland during the last century. The charming fisherman Malcolm is the focus of this story of mystery, intrigue, and romance, eventually bringing it to a satisfying conclusion.

---. The Lady's Confession. 1879. Edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1986. This is the story of Lady Juliet and her struggle between the compassionate curate Thomas Wingfold and the charming atheist Paul Faber.

---. The Maiden's Bequest. 1865. Edited by Michael R. Phillips. 1985. The mutually beneficial friendship between Alex and Annie is the basis for this compelling story set during the nineteenth-century in Scotland.

---. The Marquis' Secret. 1877. Edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1982. In this sequel to The Fisherman's Lady, the noble Malcolm must save his headstrong sister Florimel from the charms of an ignoble suitor.

---. A Quiet Neighborhood. 1866. Edited by Dan Hamilton, 1985. This gothic romance is set in a rural parish of Victorian England. The young vicar Harry Walton quickly wins the affection of his parishoners. But Harry soon discovers that things are not as they seem in his quiet country parish.

---. The Tutor's First Love. 1863. Edited by Michael R. Phillips. 1984. Hugh Sutherland slowly drifts away from the kind and noble Elginbrod family who have influenced him through their unshakable faith in God. This is a captivating story of suspense, romance, and adventure.

Melville, Herman. Billy Buds. 1924. This compelling story is a testament of Melville's philosophy and an excellent illustration of the use of literary symbols to reinforce theme. Much of Melville's fiction reflects his belief in evil as a powerful force by which men are most often dominated. The theme ofBillyBuss reflects his belief in the power of man's darker, dominant side; and the characters are symbols which express this theme. Claggert is the embodiment of evil, the one who wears a mask of congeniality to cover his base motivations. In contrast, Billy Budd is the epitome of innocence and good. The third central character of the story, Captain Viri, is the most complex; he is a. "maskliss man. of moderation" and the one who is ultimately forced to resolve the conflict between these good and evil characters.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. 1954. This political satire, written in the guise of an allegory, is a story about animals who overthrow their drunken masters and take over the running of the farm. A discussion and analysis of the work is valuable for studying satire and for showing the inherent weaknesses in a communistic system.

Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. 1948. A moving tale about the consequences of the political and cultural crises in South Africa. The elegant style and poignant themes merit guided discussion.

Rolvaag, O. E. Giants of the Earth. 1927. This is the story of an immigrant Norwegian family in South Dakota. Prairie life meant freedom to Per Hansa and loneliness and depression to his wife Beret. Although this sad tale is an accurate depiction of the hardships of prairie life, the despair inherent in the novel needs to be discussed.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk. Quo Vadis. 1896. In this riveting story set during the time of Nero's Rome, Sienkiewicz gives us a picture of the conflict within the Roman Empire, a conflict from which Christianity issued as the leading force in history. The moral tone of the story is above reproach. There are, however, certain objectionable elements presented in conjunction with the degenerate conditions that pervaded historic Rome. These elements should be discussed in the context of the story.

Steinbeck, John. The Pearl. 1948. The story is amoving treatise on the innate depravity of man, the corrupting power of wealth, and the misery that can result from these two points. It offers some valuable material for discussion provided by the socio-economic conflict between the rich and the poor. There are some objectionable elements in the story which should be addressed (e.g., references to superstitious practices). Steinbeck's purpose for these references is to give an accurate, vivid reflection of the culture and to use such cultural elements as symbols which reinforce his theme. He accomplishes both of these goals remarkably well. The thematic elements are valuable enough and the objectionable material minimal enough to make this story a good one for guided discussion.

Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 1889. A twentieth-century Yankee is transported to the middle of King Arthur's court. "This Yankee of mine," Twain states, "is a perfect ignoramus; he is boss of a machine shop, he can build a locomotive or a Colt's revolver, he can put up and run a telegraph line, but he's an ignoramus nevertheless." Regardless of this description, Twain portrays the Yankee's ingenuity as more than a match for the medieval magic and superstition. As is typical, however, beneath the rollicking humor, Twain makes some serious indictments of religion, government, and industrialism.

---. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1884. Huck Finn is one of the most memorable characters in American literature, and his story is one of the most widely read. Twain warns his readers that they will be "persecuted" if they attempt "to find a motive ... or a moral" in the novel. However, in light of the serious themes Twain presents in Huck's story, his "warning" seems disingenuous at best. Most of these themes are introduced in the first chapter and carefully reinforced throughout the book. They include the belief in the supremacy of individual freedom over the "restrictive" mores of society, the idea that traditional concepts of religion are foolish, and the insistence that man's isolation is what drives him to embrace myriad superstitions (including a belief in God). As is typical of Twain, he cloaks his cynical views in satire. A careful analysis of Huck Finn will reveal not only the vitriolic view of life which lies beneath the surface of the humor but also the inherent flaw in this author's limited perceptions.

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine. 1895. Like all of Wells's science fiction tales, this one reflects his political and ethical outlook. This particular work reflects his Fabian socialist position. It also shows some Darwinian influence. Besides pointing out such attitudes and influences, Wells's science fiction provides a valuable study in contrasts. G. K. Chesterton once said that great literature must grow out of a "rich moral soil." It is this richness that Wells's science fiction lacks. This deficiency becomes blatantly apparent when compared with C. S. Lewis's science fiction trilogy. Studying Wells and Lewis together will help students develop an appreciation of and discernment for what good science fiction really is.

---. War of the Worlds. 1898. This book is probably the most famous of Wells's science fiction adventures, and like the others it reflects many of the author's ideas and attitudes. His antipathy for British imperialism and his scorn for "religious zealots" are two of the attitudes reflected in this tale.

Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. 1911. In this powerful story, Wharton weaves a web of tragic circumstances from which her hero, Ethan Frome, has no hope of escape. Frome's self-deception, his romantic illusions, and his moral indecisiveness all contribute to the final agonizing resolution of the story, a resolution which is heightened by Wharton's deft use of dramatic irony. Like Thomas Hardy and many other modern writers, Wharton shows us a world without God and men without hope.