Keeper of the Light Teaching Guide

Plot Summary

Although it is a dangerous job, Faith Sutton has been keeping the lighthouse beacon burning on her own ever since her father died five months ago.  Her mother, however, would rather Faith learn to dress and act like a proper lady, so she moves the family back into town.  Faith is heartbroken.  Not only must she leave behind the beauty of the Lake Superior coast and the memories it brings of her father, she must surrender the job she loves to Nathaniel Kent, who doesn’t seem to grasp the grave responsibility of the position.  Once in town, Faith tries hard to please her mother and assures her she won’t return to the lighthouse.  But when a fierce storm strikes while her mother is out sailing, Faith must choose between breaking this promise and risking her mother’s life to the inexperienced hands of the new keeper.  Through this experience Faith and her mother both learn that they must try to love the other for who they are, not who each wants the other to be.  

Chapter Quiz Questions

Chapter 1

1. What happened to Faith’s father?

2. Why does Faith’s mother want to move to town?

3. What kind of oil is used to light the lamp in the lighthouse?

4. Why is Faith’s mother worried about Willy?

Chapter 2

1. Why is it so important that the Fresnel lens be polished to perfection?

2. What news does Faith’s mother get from Mr. Chesterfield?

3. Why doesn’t Faith’s mother want Faith to be the lighthouse keeper?

Chapter 3

1. What time does Faith get up to check on the light in the lighthouse?

2. What plans does Faith’s mother have for Faith in town?

3. What kind of clothes are Faith’s favorite?  Why?

Chapter 4

1. How does Faith fix the walkway?

2. What does Faith teach Willy on the beach?

3. What instrument does Faith’s mother play?

Chapter 5

1. What is Nathaniel Kent’s reaction when he first learns that Faith has been the keeper?

2. Why is Faith worried about leaving the lighthouse in the care of Nathaniel Kent?

3. How does Faith spend her last day at the lighthouse?

4. How do they get to town from the lighthouse?

Chapter 6

1. Who is Cassie Kelly?

2. Where does Mr. Chesterfield want Faith to go to school?  Why doesn’t Faith want to go there?

3. Why does it offend Faith when Mr. Chesterfield calls her mother Elizabeth?

4. What does Faith put on her burn?

Chapter 7

1. How does Faith’s mother punish her?

2. What is Cassie’s passion?

3. Why is Faith worried about the lighthouse?

4. How does Cassie propose they get to the lighthouse?

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

1. Do you think Faith will go to the private school?  Why or why not?

Chapter 8

1. Where does Faith go to school?

2. Why can’t Faith sleep in town?

3. How did Mr. Chesterfield find Nathaniel Kent?

4. What plan do Cassie and Faith make to get Faith to the lighthouse?

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

1. Do you think Faith would feel differently if they had found her father’s body?  Why or why not?

Chapter 9

1. How does Faith get to the lighthouse?

2. What does Nathaniel Kent first think when he sees Faith?

3. What does Nathaniel Kent need Faith to teach him?

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

1. Why do you think Lady avoided that specific portion of the cliff path?

Chapter 10

1. Why does Faith’s mother find out that Faith went to the lighthouse?

2. What does Faith think she will lose if she tries to be who her mother wants her to be?

3. What does Faith promise her mother?

Chapter 11

1. Why doesn’t Faith ride Lady after school?

2. How does Willy feel about Faith’s promise to their mother?

3. Why does Faith’s mother need to go to Munising?

4. Why doesn’t Faith get to go to Munising?

Chapter 12

1. What do Willy and Faith plan for the Saturday after their mother gets back?

2. What is Faith worried about the morning her mother is supposed to come back from Munising?

Chapter 13

1. Nathaniel Kent says Faith knows a lot about lighthouses, but what doesn’t she know a lot about?

2. What happened to the walkway?

Chapter 14

1. How do Nat and Faith solve the problem of not being able to get to the lighthouse?

2. What does Faith see on the water?

3. Why does Faith blame herself for her father’s death?

Chapter 15

1. How does Faith communicate with the ship?

2. How do Faith and Nat help secure the ship?

3. What surprises Faith about Nat’s house?

4. What does Faith bring back to the beach?

Chapter 16

1. How do Faith and Nat get the passengers off the boat?

2. Who do the sailors think Faith is?

3. What does Faith’s mother say when she sees Faith?

Chapter 17

1. How does Faith save Mr. Chesterfield?

2. What does Mr. Chesterfield say to Faith when he regains consciousness?

3. What does Faith realize about her father?

4. What does Faith realize about herself?

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

1. What do you think will happen next?

 Discussion Questions

1) Faith has made a promise as the lighthouse keeper to keep the light burning.  Why is it important to keep promises?  When is it important to break them?  Faith’s promise to her mother to try to be a lady and her promise to keep the light burning conflict with each other.  How can we choose between conflicting promises?  What promises have you kept?  What promises have you broken?  Why did you break them?  What were the consequences?

2) Faith’s family is dealing with the loss of her father.  How do people deal with death in different ways?  What is good and bad about those different ways?  How do you think Faith and her mother can heal together and satisfy their separate needs at the same time?  What do you think Willy needs?  Why and how are Willy’s needs different from Faith’s?  From their mother’s?  How do you think they would feel differently if they had found the body?  Why is it important to see the body in order to come to terms with loss?

3) Faith’s mother stresses the importance of organized education.  Why isn’t this as important to Faith?  What other kinds of education are there?  How are the different kinds equally important?  How was organized education (for women in particular) in Faith’s time different from organized education today?  Why was it different?  How was it similar?  Why?

4) Faith speaks her mind to her mother, even when she knows she shouldn’t.  How do family dynamics determine what we feel we can say to each other?  What do you feel you can tell your parents?  What do you feel you can tell your siblings?  How are the two similar?  How are they different?  What members of the family do you think dictate how those channels of communication work?

5) The lighthouse is a very important place to Faith—it is her home, and it reminds her of her father.  Why is home an important place in our lives?  What is special/important about your home?  Do you have other special places?  Which special things could you take with you from your home if you moved?  What things would you have to leave behind?  How could you make up for having to leave them behind?

6) Faith’s mother wants to have an upper-class existence once they get to town.  Why does Faith have trouble with this?  Why does Faith feel she can more closely identify with Cassie than with her cousins?  How do the class differences represent themselves in the different schools Faith could attend?  Why doesn’t Cassie go to Miss Hutchinson’s School for Girls?  What were upper class women educated to do in those times?  Why doesn’t Faith want to be one of those girls?

7) Faith is offended when Mr. Chesterfield calls her mother by her first name.  Why?  Would you have that reaction if a stranger called your mother by her first name?  Why or why not?  What form of address would be similar today to the use of a first name in Faith’s time?  

8) Faith likes the solitude of the lighthouse, but both her mother and Nathaniel Kent feel lonely there.  What is the difference between loneliness and solitude?  Why do we feel both?  When do we need to be alone and when do we need other people?  When does Faith need other people?  When do you feel lonely?  When do you want to be alone?  How do you deal with those feelings?

9) Faith feels competitive with Mr. Chesterfield for her mother’s attention.  How do you deal with new people coming into your family (step parents, new baby, etc)?  What is exciting about new family members?  What is frustrating about them?  How do you deal with both feelings?  

10) Faith feels responsible in some way for her father’s death, because she couldn’t keep the light burning the night he died.  What would you say to Faith to help her release this feeling of responsibility?  

11) Faith wants her mother to love her for who she is.  How does Faith need to use that same desire with regards to her own love for her mother?  How can we stop needing to change people and decide to love them for who they are?  Why is this particularly important with regards to family?  

 Projects (Science, Math, Language and History)


1) Research different ways to predict weather (there are several mentioned in the book).  For a week, write a prediction each morning of that day’s weather using the methods found in your research.  Keep a journal of these predictions accompanied by descriptions of the each day’s actual weather.  Using your collected data, write a report about the accuracy of the methods you used.     

2) Faith, along with many other people of her time, believed that the way to save a drowning man was to drape him over a barrel.  Research different life-saving techniques to determine if the barrel was the element that saved Mr. Chesterfield’s life.  Compare and contrast the difference between life-saving techniques then and now.  Write a report on how the techniques have improved.  


Make a list of the different professions practiced by parents of the students without discussing which parent does which job.  As a class, divide the different professions into two lists: typical women’s jobs and typical men’s jobs.  Calculate what percentage of the men’s jobs are being performed by the mothers, and what percentage of the women’s jobs are being performed by the fathers of the students.  Make pie graphs to show these percentages.  Have each student make a list of women’s jobs around the house and men’s jobs around the house.  Observe and record how often the jobs are done by the expected gender, and when they are performed by the other gender.  Calculate percentages and create graphs.  Discuss the value of breaking down the ideas of “women’s” jobs and “men’s” jobs using the found data.


Research the different styles of women’s clothing worn in Faith’s time.  Discuss how the clothing determined what activities the women could participate in.  In Faith’s time it was not acceptable for women to wear pants. Now most women wear pants. Research when this change occurred and why. How did the women who brought about this change use their clothing as a statement?  Write a paper detailing this change. Describe how clothing can be used as a statement today. Predict the future shift in women’s clothing.


What do you think Faith’s father would tell Faith if he were alive during the story?  Write a letter to Faith from her father giving advice and counsel about how to handle her situation.

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