Christy Reflection

Christy Reflection

Anti Book Report on Christy – by Catherine Marshal

Christy Reflection Introduction

The book Christy is a novel based on a true story. Several events within its pages spoke to me personally. The author shows an adept ability to present history in its true context. She also stays true to the character’s values. For these and many other reasons, I decided that I wanted to write a Christy reflection.


Christy was only a girl of nineteen when she went to Cutter Gap to teach school to the mountain children. She heard of the opportunity at the church conference grounds at Montreat. A little doctor by the name of Dr. Ferrand had stood behind the pulpit and fervently shared the need for recruits to help the Highlanders. She had never heard someone speak who believed in a cause to the depth this man did. Her life had been filled with luxury, but now she saw real needs. Then she had to “begin the long task of persuading” her parents. “After all, up there in the mountains were boys and girls who ought to have the chance at least of learning to read.”


My mind was immediately taken off guard by Christy’s words. I was supposed to be reading a book about someone else’s life, not a reflection of my own. Maybe I should do a Christy reflection and really absorb this book. How many times had my own daughter Tondi worked at persuading her dad and me that she must be involved in mission work? Hadn’t her mission trip to Bolivia been a wonderful opportunity to spend two months in immersion Spanish, take mission weekends into the highlands, and do outreach to poor city girls? I stood on the side of Christy’s mother wondering why a nineteen-year-old girl would want to go off into mission work.


When Christy first went to Cutter Gap, she followed the mailman. They walked in snow seven miles from El Pano to Cutter Gap. “For the first half mile or so just the other side of El Pano there was a wide, well-traveled lane which many feet had packed into a hard white roadbed.” Then there “were the foothills, and beyond them, the mountains.” They crossed a large creek walking on logs. Christy crawled the last few feet for fear of slipping. They climbed another hour in knee-deep snow and came to a very steep mountainside; “The path had been sliced out of the side of the mountain at our right. Sometimes the trail jutted sharply to get around a sharp outcropping of rock. At our left, the ledge appeared to drop off into space.” Finally, they reached Spencer’s cabin, which was the first cabin on the mountain of Gutter Gap.


We visited Christy Mission a few years ago. This made me realize that her description of the path up that mountain revealed a far worse condition for travel in her day. Our trip wasn’t perfect though, not by a long shot! When on that trip, our nine children, my husband Dave, and I came to a turn in the road, and our son Josh said, “Check out that sign! Are you sure this is where we turn?” The sign warned us to travel the next eight miles “at our own risk”. The gravel road beyond that turn looked fine to me. I’d seen far worse in Africa as a missionary kid growing up.

Then we turned and soon began following a rather windy road that had some drop-offs just a few inches from our tires. Maybe the sign was right. Next thing we knew, there was a spot that brought us to a stop for a moment of decision. Straight ahead, the road went up at a forty-five degrees angle. Then it turned left sharply, and not far from that turned again to the right at a ninety-degree angle. After that, it climbed a steep slope again. While we hesitated, a hillbilly and his boy rode up on a motorcycle. Dave rolled down his window.

Reflection – Christy’s Characters’ Descendants

“Can I holp yer with somethin’?”

“We’re not sure we can make it any farther. We think we might have to walk the rest of the way to Christy’s Mission.”

The hillbilly got off his motorcycle and walked halfway down the side of our thirty-foot-long, orange, ex-Motta bus. Then he stood there in his flannel shirt and jeans with suspenders. He reached his arms out in both directions leaning first one way, then the other, as if to get the perfect measurement of our contraption. He wrinkled up his forehead.

“I think yer can mayk hit! Yah. I think yer can mayk hit!”

Reflection – Our Ascent up Christy’s Mountain

We decided to give it a try. After making it up the first slope, we turned. In the curve, our tires were barely on the road. Little stones skittered down the mountainside. Smoke started coming from under the hood. We made the second turn rubbing against the hillside. Then a hissing noise came from the side toward the hill. By the time we got up to the mission, smoke was pouring out from under all sides of the hood.

The men replaced the tire and added transmission fluid to get us by until we could get it worked on later. Meanwhile, our children enjoyed having foot races with the hillbilly boy. That boy hadn’t met any outsiders that could actually beat him before, but our children had a little bit of hillbillyishness in them too, I think.  

Christy and Reflection:

As I read of Christy beginning to teach sixty-seven children in a one-room schoolhouse, I began to count my blessings. At least I only had seven to home-school. Mine are blessed with books too – lots of books, and shoes for their feet (if they chose to wear them). But I became aggravated with Christy when she wanted to citify those precious mountain folk. “At least we could do something about their bare feet. It’s shameful.” She said. My thinking at this point in the book was that their lack of shoes, fancy foods, and perfect cleanliness wasn’t the worst of their problems by far. That was just the surface picture. Soon Christy was to discover this for herself.


After being at the school for about a month, she began to notice that there were children who were not alert because of malnutrition. Some children had obvious eye problems. Then Christy revealed another problem, “Nor could I ever have anticipated the pigs…Some of them had taken to sleeping under the schoolhouse floor, grunting…scratching their backs on the foundation posts.” This was only the beginning.

Later, she learned of the feudal hatred that ruled the community, which was closely tied to the bootlegging industry. Tom was an example of this. He’d become involved in bootlegging to pay for his large family’s medical needs, but backed out later and told on the others. Then he found himself in the following situation. “It was obvious that the hours of crouching in the woods like a hunted animal had debilitated Tom.” There was “a group in collusion, all determined to kill him, many of them even now lying wait for him in ambush…” Finally, he tried to get to the mission house for safety, but got shot in the back and died. The real mission work lay in conquering the feuds and inventing new industries in the cove to replace bootlegging.

Christy’s epiphany – Reflection epiphany

I was amazed to see how God worked out the epiphany of this story. It made it worth doing a Christy reflection. Through the scourge of typhoid fever, the mission workers were able to show love to the son of a key person in a current feud by giving his son intensive bed care. He realized that “…most ony addlepated fool could pull the trigger of a rifle-gun, but that it took a man to fix things.” I find that true in my life. It’s easier to deliver hateful words than be a peacemaker, but peace made dissolves the need for hateful words.

Reading Recommendation:

Christy is packed full of adventure. It is also a cultural revelation of both mountain folk and the upper-class European roots they came from. The unabridged copy I read kept to the Christian theme of the main characters’ lives. I would recommend this version to adults. There is murder, death by disease, surgery, and a chapter that tells of a character who went through molestation as a child. In spite of this, it was worth it to give Christy a reflection. Life is full of these realities, Christy ends with a positive renewal. I love happy endings!

2 Replies to “Christy Reflection”

  1. I don’t think you meant to type “an inept ability.” “Inept” means “clumsy” or “showing no skill.” 🙂

    Perhaps “adept?”

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