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Beginning In Mark Twain’s Short Stories


Authors usually introduce beginnings by mentioning the plot of the story and its setting. Many use it to introduce the work itself and its significance. The introduction of stories is meant for readers to get a sense of the story. However many authors use the beginning as a tool to introduce the narrator and characters, and most of all the setting and its timing. Mark Twain demonstrates the beginning in various ways. He uses the beginning to introduce the narrator and the character and its conflicts within the story.

Throughout the passage David Lodge discusses the beginning of a story, often times it starts with an opening sentence. However, the opening sentence doesn’t necessarily include the first sentence but can be mentioned during the first part of the story. This is demonstrated In “Adams Diary” and also “Eves Diary” by not having a clear beginning but dividing it into the days of the week. The days of the weeks symbolize an adaptation to the new environment and their experiences and the process throughout it. Lodge also mentions that often times the beginning of the novel differentiates and separates the real world from the world the novelists creates and imagined. In this case “In the Story of The Bad little boy who Didn’t Come To Greif”  and “The Good Little boy That Did Not Prosper “Twain creates a world at the beginning of two types of world one that is a Bad Little Boy that creates a world around himself that is considered immoral and unethical. Which is evident when saying “Most bad boys names in Sunday school books are named James (pg.10)”. This represents an introductory to the story of the kind of boy he is. Sunday school books are a symbol of church books. In the environment they are surrounded by it is moral and ethical to follow it in order to prosper into a great individual. Twain is demonstrating that most James is considered bad, however, in the future, they become better than the ones that read Sunday school books. In the “Good Little Boy That Did Not Prosper” Jacob puts his heart and ambition towards these Sunday schools books to create a better life for himself while obeying his parents which is evident when saying “He believed in the good little boys they put in the Sunday school books; he had every confidence in them (pg.30)”. The importance of these Sunday school books provide faith and for individuals to be successful. These Sunday school books provide the foundation of how the narrator will begin the story and begin to frame it. The Sunday Schools are demonstrated as a building block of the two stories.

Throughout Lodge’s passage, it states that the beginning is usually demonstrated when determining the plot and the characters and is usually a process when determining it. The beginning of the story begins with introducing the characters by introducing Aunt Rachel. The plot of the story starts by Aunt Rachel who is considered a slave and Misto C talking on the porch. Which is evident in “We were sitting on the porch of the farmhouse, on the summit of the hill, and, Aunt Rachel was sitting respectfully below our level on the steps”(pg.46). By mentioning this extract from the story, it frames the story of the struggles of the slaves. The characters in this story are usually described through the conversations between Miso C and Rachel. The importance of this story is clearly evident because it can be coming from a true experience or story. Throughout the Bad Little Boy and the Good Little Boy, it is clearly evident that the “Good Little Boy that did not Prosper” is a continuation of the Bad Little Boy. At the beginning of the story, Jim is being judged and compared to the good little boy who upholds morals and reads Sunday school books. It plots out the setting which demonstrates how the story will be told by creating a plot surrounded by the bad boy and talking about his faults and demonstrating him into being troublesome. “In the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper,” he is demonstrated as an obedient child no matter how bad the situation is. The importance of these two kids is explained towards the end. This demonstrates two individuals from two separate worlds whom won’t end up with the same outcome due to the fact that good doesn’t turn into success. The plot starts off by mentioning Jim is “afflicted”.

Throughout Extracts from “Adam’s Diary”. Adam’s a single man, who is mentioned as a lonely man. His feeling is mentioned as feeling frightened and creeped out by stating ”This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way”. However, Eve is demonstrated by a  more knowledgeable individual who has an outlook on things in a positive way. ”It tapers like a carrot. I think it is a man. I had never seen a man, but it looked like one, and I feel sure that that is what it is.”. She is describing this world to her as new and strange but has a better outlook on things by coming from a different outlook than Adam has. They both are experiencing new experiences that are nearly strange to them due to the fact that they’ve never encountered it. These two stories demonstrate the two perspectives of two individuals that soon come together.

Throughout many novels, the novelist begins with a “frame story” which determines how the main story was discovered towards a fictional and readers point of view. For instance, the beginning of the “The Bad Little Boy who didn’t come to Grief” starts by demonstrating the lack of love the bad little boy has which results into his troublesome and his bad actions. The beginning of a story demonstrates a sense of the narrator and its prominence in conveying the meaning. The narrator begins with being naïve to understand the meaning and satirical approaches to these passages. In Adams Diary and Eves diary the narrator is naïve towards their experiences by mentioning their point of perspective and its effect on them as individuals. .During  Extracts from Adams, Diary Eve follows Adam; he’s creeped out. However, Eve, in her excerpt, provides readers with a few more insights about their first days together. She follows him, he runs away from her whilst becoming feared and angered, he climbs a tree to escape her, and she heads home. This series of actions repeats. However, when it comes to Eve the narrator mentions more insights and its effect on joining them together.

In conclusion, Lodge gives us a clear image of how beginnings are usually written. Beginnings are used as a tool to frame the story and how it is being told. It is helpful for the readers to get a sense of how the story will be told. The beginning of the story allows the readers to be engaged with its audience and seek a connection which is evident in Mark Twain’s stories.


























Twain, Mark. _The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain._ Modern Library, 2004.



1 Comment

  1. noorchughtai says:

    Awesome blogpost! I also discussed the beginnings of short stories, but focused more on the introduction of characters. I loved reading your blogpost because I was able to connect yours to mine!

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