Literature, Language, and Life

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Lodges Ideas Applied to Mark Twains Story / Zahra W.

The topic under discussion is motivation in relation to Twain’s short stories, specifically the motivations of the characters’ actions throughout the stories. For example, in “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”, Adam, a character representing the first man created by God, is motivated to begin the exploration of the world by his creation. Many other instances are observed in the other short stories, and they hold the purpose of expanding the role of each character through the inspiration(s) for their actions.

Throughout  “The Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper”, the topic discussed is a boy who always obeyed his parents, never lied, followed his book of morals, and was never late to Sabbath school.  This is proven in the story when it states “Thus perished the good little boy who did the best he could, but didnt come out according to the books”.  This was Jacob Blivens, who always did good to everyone and acted correctly no matter what. However, for this kind little boy, nothing went as expected. In the book, it says that if you go to Sunday church and act right, you will have a good life. He did everything mentioned in the book, but nothing good ever came his way. He wondered how bad little boys got away with lying and cheating while he suffered the consequences.

This connects to the theme of motivation because Twain writes about a how a good little boy did not prosper but not how and why. Twain talks about how the good little boy did everything according to books, but nothing ever went this way. Twain ignores the causes of why this might be happening to the little boy, and reasons it may be happening. Twain overlooks these reasons/motives of the characters on purpose to focus on the bigger picture of life and human complexity. He does this to present an image to the audience, an image that reveals the true colors of the book, and how hypocritical it can be. Twain ignores the intentions behind the characters to show people the hypocrisy and lies behind the book teaching that if you act good, things will go your way. This demonstrates human complexity without understanding the intentions/motivation behind oneself. This is important because Twain is focusing on the bigger picture, of how important it is to understand that bad things can happen to good people all the time, and bad people can always get away with their cruelty. This creates an understanding of the reality we live in, and the nature of human beings by coming to the conclusion that we all ignore our true intentions and focus on our futures.

Another story is “The Bad Little Boy Who Did Not Come to Grief”, which is about a boy named Jim who had a very pious mother. The bad little boy lied, disobeyed his mother, and went against the book while his mother did everything she could to try and help him. People always spoke about how the bad little would not prosper in life. However, this bad little boy grew up to become very successful by getting married, raising a good family, and becoming wealthy/prosperous.  This is proven in the story when it states “So you can see there never was a bad James in the sunday school books that had such a streak of luck as this sinful Jim with the charmed life”. As you can learn from the story,  the ones who commit unlawful acts can succeed more than those who commit acts of kindness.

This connects to the motivation of the story because Twain speaks about what the bad little boy has done throughout his life and the outcomes. He mentions how his mom never kissed him good night and gave him the attention he needed, which may have triggered his horrid behavior. However, Twain still completely ignores the causes of why he might be a bad little boy, and focuses on the outcome and how the boy got there. He does this to focus on the heart, mind, actions, and emotions of the bad little boy which led up to him having such a successful future. He does this because it is ironic how in the sunday school books, it says those who obey God will prosper. But no one expected this bad little boy to grow up to be successful. Twain disregards the motives and intentions of the character by bringing the bigger picture out of that everything believed from the sunday school book as a lie. The Sunday school book is hypocritical and filled with lies that convinces people to believe things that aren’t true. Twain wants people to know the truth that in good there is bad, and in bad there is always good.

In relation to both the stories, motivation as significantly present when the narrator was motivated to tell the stories since he found them  fascinating for all the wrong reasons.  He finds them astonishing because they don’t follow the usual sunday school stories. He also assumes that readers will react as he did too.What also motivates and interests readers is how the narrator can be ignorant/naive towards the beliefs of the sunday school books and how they can actually apply to life.

Moving on, in “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It”, this story is demonstrates the racism throughout society, which was was written 9 years after the civil war. This is proven in the story when it states “Well one night-it was a friday night- dey comes a whole platoon f’m a bigger ridmgent dat was on guard at de house”. Throughout the story it was expected that since the black people were no longer enslaved, they would prosper. However, black people still struggled with inequality and racism. This prevented black people from moving on from the past and prospering. The slaves that were uneducated was portrayed through a character named Aunt Rachel to show the illiteracy of enslaved people of the past.

The white narrator feels motivated and the need to feel superior by asking Aunt Rachel why she has never had worries. Motivation comes into place when the narrator realizes that the whites can be superior over the blacks. He initially believed that Aunt Rachel had no worries and responsibilities when in reality they were so heavy to deal with. He was so motivated with the intention to list to Aunt Rachel have no heavy worries or responsibilities. Aunt Rachel is also not motivated by anything but to tell the truth. She also does not resent the dumb questions Mr. C asks. However, in the end, the narrator felt motivated to tell her story just as she did to him, to show others like him the truth.

In addition to the rest of the stories “Extracts From Adam’s Diary” demonstrates how Adam is the first man to be sent down from Earth, and how he discovered himself and everything around him. This is proven in the story when it states “Been examining the great waterfall. It is the finest thing on the estate”.  There are diary entries in order according to the days. Twain ridiculous religion when talking about niagara falls. It switches from diaries of days to month. It is unusual how Twain skipped all the days and months which portrays that pay as much attention compared to other religious books. Eve names everything she sees throughout the story.Adam discovered everything that exists within the earth. Later on, Adam learns to find a way of how to deal with Eve because in the beginning it was hard.

The motivation of Adam was how god placed him on earth as the first man. Thus being influenced by this motivation to explore the nature of the world and start life. Adam explored aspects of nature such as the great waterfall, known as the niagara falls. As days went by throughout the stories, Adam advanced day by day to exploring new things. For instance, the motivation he had grew as the days passed by. After tuesday of examining the waterfall, he built a shelter the next day for himself against the rain. His motivation takes him to understand who he is, where he is, which convinces him to explore his surroundings. Because of this, Adams motivation continues to grow  tremendously causing himself to grow.

1 Comment

  1. sameehakhalil says:

    Nice work Zahra! I really enjoyed reading about the motivation behind the characters in each of the short stories and appreciate how you thoughtfully organized your blogpost into sections to aid the reader’s understanding of your work. However, one suggestion that I would make is to add a little more information about how the stories connect to the theme you mentioned regarding “human complexity”. For instance, you could include that in “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”, the idea that Adam is superior to Eve through the evidence that Eve was created by Adam’s own ribs reveals the complexity behind gender stereotypes. Furthermore, society has developed the ideology that men are superior to women. You can expand on this example and discuss more. Otherwise, you did very well.

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