Stoner Study Guide

Stoner

Stoner by John Williams

The central character, William Stoner, begins as a farm boy in Missouri whose parents send him to the University of Missouri to major in agriculture. After reading Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 and influenced by his instructor, Archer Sloane, Stoner changes his major to literature and pursues a master of arts. After receiving his Ph.D. during World War I, Stoner continues at the university as an assistant professor of English, the position he held for the duration of his career.

The novel follows Stoner's undistinguished career and workplace politics, his marriage to Edith, his affair with his colleague Katherine, and his love and pursuit of literature.

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