The Rector of Justin Presents Personality Puzzles

Dust jacket of The Rector of JustinRejected for service with the British Army because of heart murmur, Brian Aspinwall lands a job at Justin Martyr, an Episcopal boys’ boarding school outside Boston, in September, 1939. The school’s founder-headmaster is the Reverend Francis Prescott, D.D., the most influential secondary educator in New England.

Brian begins a journal which becomes a record of his own observations of Prescott and those shared with him by others. Brian writes of Prescott the public figure and Prescott the private man.

Being a quiet, shy person, Brian has difficulty adjusting to life among 450 boys and their male teachers, all of whom seem to Brian to be in thrall to “the god of football.”

Nevertheless, he becomes a good friend to Prescott’s dying wife, and, in return, is helped by Prescott to master the art of commanding students’ respect.

By giving Brian boundless opportunities to observe Prescott and his world up close, Louis Auchincloss makes Brian’s picture of Prescott potentially either highly reliable or highly distorted. What fact is recorded by Brian’s keen mind, which by his soft heart?

In the end, readers of The Rector of Justin have to sort out not only what kind of man Francis Prescott was, but also what kind of man Brian Aspinwall is.

The Rector of Justin
By Louis Auchincloss
Houghton Mifflin, 1964
341 pages
1964 bestseller #6
My grade: B+

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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