William Faulkner Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about author William Faulkner with this lesson plan. Students will listen to a video lesson, take a related follow-up quiz, and participate in three activities to reinforce main concepts.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe some of the details that shaped Faulkner's personal life
  • Explain some of the elements of Faulkner's distinctive writing style
  • Explain the Modernist style and elements of his works
  • Identify the region where many of his works take place
  • List some of the major works by the author


1.5-2.0 Hours


  • Access to the Internet
  • Access to the video lesson and copies of the text lesson William Faulkner: Biography, Books, and Style along with the accompanying lesson quiz.
  • Image of William Faulkner
  • Paper
  • Preprinted worksheets with 14 Faulkner works and 14 matching characters, not in order.
  • Writing Utensils

Key Vocabulary

  • Absalom, Absalom!
  • A Fable
  • As I Lay Dying
  • 'Collected Stories'
  • Go Down, Moses
  • Modernist
  • National Book Award
  • Nobel Prize
  • Requiem for a Nun
  • Sartoris
  • Soldier's Pay
  • 'The Big Sleep'
  • The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion
  • The Reivers
  • The Sound and the Fury
  • William Faulkner

Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).


  • Inform your students they will be studying author William Faulkner.
  • Display an image of William Faulkner
  • Review vocabulary terms
  • Read the text lesson introduction to the students.
  • Have the students listen to the first section of the video lesson William Faulkner: Biography, Books, and Style and pause the video at :48.
    • How do the Coen brothers' movies stereotype Faulkner?
    • What are some of the movies that exhibit this pattern?
  • Now, restart the video and then pause again at 3:06.
    • Where was Faulkner born. Where was he raised?
    • Did he graduate from high school?
    • What happened to Estelle Oldham, his high school girlfriend?
    • What were the circumstances of his military career?
    • Who did he end up marrying?
    • How did he manage to get in college even though he was a high school dropout?
    • Did he graduate from college?
    • What jobs did he have?
    • What permanent job did he procure?
    • What was his biggest screenwriting credit?
    • What major awards did he win?
    • How old was he when he died? How did he die?
  • Next, restart the video and pause again at 6:59.
    • What were some of his major works?
    • Which novel is considered to be one of the best of the century?
    • What was his first novel? What was his final novel?
    • What is different about his final novel?
    • What were some of the recurring themes of his novels?
  • Finally, restart the video and listen to the 'Lesson Summary.'
  • Read the section of the text lesson 'Learning Outcomes' to the students.
  • Have the students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate understanding.

Activity One

  • Have your students work in small groups of 4-6 and create a timeline of major events in Faulkner's life. All the dates except one are in or can be calculated in the video lesson or text lesson.

The timeline should include the year:

  • Faulkner was born
  • His family moved
  • He started his military career
  • World War I ended
    • World War I ended in November of 1918
  • He married Estelle
  • His screenwriting masterpiece 'The Big Sleep' debuted
  • He won the Nobel Prize
  • He won the National Book Award
  • He died
  • His first novel was published
  • His last novel was published
  • 'The Sound and the Fury' was published
  • 'As I Lay Dying' was published

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