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Motivation: Lodges ideas applied to Mark Twain

In Mark Twains short story “The Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come To Grief” we see that there is a lack of motivation for the young boy Jim to ever do any good. This is because Jim, unlike the Jameses in the Sunday-school stories, never really gets punished. Jim does not have a sick mother who loves him dearly. So Jim, unlike the Jameses, does not feel the need to do better by his mother, because he knows she does not love him like other mothers love their children. Jim also gets away with his sinful doings. For example, Jim steal his teachers penknife and hides it in George’s cap. No one ever sees Jim hide the knife there, so no one ever calls him out on this, thus George is the little boy who gets thrashed.

Similarly, Jim never gets caught in storms or drowns when he goes fishing on Sundays like the Jameses would if they had gone fishing. Jim does not get into trouble for his sinful acts so Jim Lacks the motivation to ever better himself or repent. It is the bad little boy who finishes first in the race of life. So his only motivation is to do bad in order to have fun and succeed.

Comparison Between Chopin and Twain

Unlike Twains writing, Chopin’s is much more lively and positive. Chopin’s short stories convey a positive form of motivation, like in her short story “Beyond the Bayou”. As the main character uses love to motivate herself to overcome one of her greatest fears to pass the bayou. Twain on the other hand uses more of a negative connotation with his writing. As we see in his short stories “The good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper” and “The Good Little Boy Who Didn’t Come To Grief” He associates negativity and sin to success, meanwhile doing good deeds and being a good person in general to failure in life. Twains twists his sense of motivation in order to make it seem as if the only things that should motivate us is doing wrong. However, Chopin uses love as a form of motivation in order to better ourselves.


  1. laithab says:

    I agree with what is being said here as I believe the motivation is also positive in “The Lillies”. Marie Lousie’s motivation to help her mother and save her calf is like a foil to Jim who does not care about his mother’s approval. The difference in motivation shows how Twain’s view of the society he lives in is negative and, like Swift, one can argue that he is very critical of the human nature. Chopin, however, has a positive and possibly considered naïve when she tries to portray the relationship between slaves and their ex-masters in a positive light when history records the cruelty in that relationship.

  2. lubnamostafa says:

    I think that Twain intended for the backstory of the characters to not serve as an excuse for them to act the way they do. He’s putting forth this idea that what’s portrayed in literature is not what happens in reality and sometimes there is no reason as to why people act the way they do. Also in “The Story of The goo Little Boy” we are shown James’ true selfish motivation for his good deeds and his lack of sincerity may very well be the reason he is never rewarded.

  3. nayaabkhan99 says:

    Iman made a very important observation about the cause of motivation in Chopin’s stories compared to Twain’s stories. Mark Twain’s characters are motivated by sin in some short stories. Although this is true, love is also used to motivate a character, just like Kate Chopin uses love as a form of motivation for many of her characters. Mark Twain uses love as a form of motivation in “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It.” The main character was an African American woman who was always very happy and laughing. Her name was Aunt Rachel and she had a tragic life, as many slaves did. All her children were sold to others right in front of her including her dear Henry, the youngest child. Aunt Rachel’s love for him motivated her to keep working and traveling in hopes of being reunited with him. One day, she was reunited with him only because her love for him had given her hope.

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