Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Christy, in a prologue and forty-six chapters, recounts eleven months in the life of naïve, untried nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston. Through a first-person narrator, Catherine Marshall has set out a young woman’s coming-of-age, the struggles and triumphs of her first year on her own.

In the novel’s prologue, Marshall explains that her purpose is to describe a pivotal year in her mother’s life. The facts are true; the characters are drawn from real people, and the locale is identical to that of her mother’s youth—only names are altered. Without its prologue, Christy is fiction—with it, Christy takes on the reality of a biographical account. The straightforward narrative unfolds through the eyes of the nineteen-year-old protagonist. With her parents’ reluctant consent, Christy responds to a call for volunteers to teach school in the remote mountains of Tennessee. Although no one greets Christy at the railroad station when she arrives, she finds her own way to her destination of Cutter Gap. When she finally reaches the Cove, she discovers that the man sent to meet her train has been seriously injured on his way there and she witnesses a crude surgical operation under primitive conditions that saves his life. Christy moves into the mission house under the watchful eye of Alice Henderson, the Quaker missionary-teacher in charge of Cutter Gap school, where Christy discovers that she is expected to teach sixty-seven...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Marshall effectively uses a number of techniques to convincingly portray the daily life and heritage of the mountain community of Eastern...

(The entire section is 338 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The prominent role that social conflict, particularly as it involves the impoverished and illiterate mountain people of East Tennessee, plays...

(The entire section is 237 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Conflict and struggle in the frontier regions of North America is a theme in many novels. Christy shares the Western genre's tendency...

(The entire section is 157 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

As in Christy, Marshall combines a colorful portion of American culture and history with facets of her family background in...

(The entire section is 48 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In 1994 Christy was adapted to a highly successful weekly television serial.

(The entire section is 11 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Goin, Mary Elisabeth. “Catherine Marshall: Three Decades of Popular Religion.” Journal of Presbyterian History 56, no. 3 (Fall, 1978): 219-235. Examines how Marshall developed her writing to help readers meet God and seek salvation as a goal, stressing her focus on the individual’s spiritual experiences.

McReynolds, Kathy. Catherine Marshall. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 1999. Explores Marshall’s spiritual beliefs and practices while writing Christy and how that book affected her spiritually after publication. Incorporates excerpts from her journals.

Marshall, Catherine. A Closer Walk. Edited by Leonard E. LeSourd. Old Tappan, N.J.: Chosen Books, 1986. Marshall’s second husband, a religious publisher, remarks on his editorial input while she wrote early drafts of Christy. Includes Marshall’s spiritual lifeline.

Marshall, Catherine. Meeting God at Every Turn: A Personal Family Story. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Chosen Books, 2002. A chapter discusses Marshall’s mother, her religious viewpoints, her mission work, and how she influenced the characterization of Christy.