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Sense Of Place

Place is often defined as the physical aspect of the environment at hand. In another sense, we may define place as the environment removed from the speaker or the writer. However, in the literary world, specifically In the short stories of mark twain, Sense of place is combined with time and events which together create a social setting or the social context of the works. According to Lodge, “ The description in a novel is never just a description.” In the short stories of mark twain, dialect, experiences, character personalities are used in the process of forming the sense of place. Mark Twain writes in a manner in which the readers can collect certain characteristics about an area such as cultural values, character experiences and economic gaps based on the sense of place.

In “the story of the bad little boy who did not know grief” and ” The good little boy who didn’t prosper,” with dialect and descriptions of the landscape, readers can automatically gather that the setting is in a small rural town in southern America. This is shown through dialect and descriptions of, fields, the farmer’s trees and dogs “Once he climbed up in Farmer Acorn’s apple-tree to steal apples, and the limb didn’t break, and he didn’t fall and break his arm, and get torn by the farmer’s great dog.” The idea of “ Sunday school books” and activities such as fishing that are looked down upon on sacred days like Sabbath or Sunday indicates that this is a small village of individuals who may share similar values and beliefs, considering all the arguments made regarding the actions of Jim or Jacob were compared to the characters in the “ Sunday school books” and their actions. An example of this is seen as there is a comparison made to the outcome of bad little boy’s in Sunday books who go fishing on Sunday with Jim, “ Oh no; you would find that all the bad boys who go boating on Sunday invariably get drowned; and all the bad boys who get caught out in storms when they are fishing on Sunday infallibly get struck by lightning”. Lodge stated that in the literary world there is ” no attempt to make the see” a place or experience it’s “sensory impact”. Mark twain however used concepts like the Sunday school books to allow the readers see that there is a clear distinction between the cultural norms and reality. Additionally, descriptions of children’s clothing as they attend a funeral may serve as an indication of those who failed to attain prosperity in America, “Children standing around the grave in pantaloons that were too short and bonnets that were too large.”Furthermore, the sense of place in the two stories are used to apprehend the lives and experiences of Jacob and Jim and their journey from their early years to the outcome of their adulthood. The sense of place presented in both stories gave the readers a perspective on Jim and Jacob, the people he Interfaced with and the social environment he is in and how that impacted his life and behaviors.

In Twain’s ” A true story, word for word as I heard it,” the story’s description foreshadows a bigger message then is presented. The story begins with the main character Aunt Rachel sitting on the porch of her owner Misto C’s ( Mark Twain / Narrator)’s farmhouse. Initially, she is presented as sitting “below” Misto C because she is a colored servant “Aunt Rachel was sitting respectfully below our level, on the steps,—for she was our servant, and colored”. From this readers can infer that this is a time in history were African Americans like Aunt Rachel were solely perceived as sorrowful and miserable. Nevertheless, Aunt Rachel’s past and hardships shaped her to be the strong positive woman that allowed her to no longer be sitting under Misto C but has stood up wiser and more experienced.

Overall, Mark Twain has utilized sense of place to demonstrate a character’s complex relationship, identity and connection to a specific place while also incorporating the loss of community that comes from cultural preconceptions that influence the response a person has to a place.

Works Cited

Lodge, David. The art of fiction. Vintage, 2011.

Twain, Mark. The best short stories of Mark Twain. Edited by Lawrence I. Berkove, Modern Library, 2004.

David Lodge to Mark Twain Introducing a Character

Introducing a character is the first step in inviting the reader to feel welcomed in a story. English writer, David Lodge, states in his “The Art of Fiction” that when introducing a character, there comes many different techniques and approaches (Lodge 67).

David Lodge states that there are multiple versions of characters, for all characters are different. For example, there are major, minor, and flat characters; with each character, there is a different method to introduce them (Lodge 67). Furthermore, Lodge declares that the most repetitive form of introducing a character in older fiction is by simply “providing a physical description and brief biographical summary” of that character. For as many other aspects of life, fiction has evolved; modern fiction chooses to take a more general approach of introducing a character (Lodge 68). In modern fiction, the character would most likely be developed throughout the story as more and more actions that the character commits, more and more the reader gets to know who the character is (Lodge 69).

The first story presented in “The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain” is titled the “The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief”. The title in itself provides a minor introduction to the main character of the story. It is important for the reader to keep in mind that the entire story is told in a third person perspective implying that everything said about the main character, Jim, is how he is portrayed to all surrounding people. The narrator begins the story by comparing Jim to other bad children and the characteristics that those “bad” children possess. He states that most bad children that are read about are named “James” and that they usually all have “sick mothers” who are unable to provide guidance for their children. Twain provides no physical description for Jim, the purpose of this can be inferred that Twain tries to make a connection to not only one specific case of bad little boy but perhaps he tries to coincide the story of Jim to the lives of thousands of young children for this is a repetitive story that humanity witnesses throughout all of history. The only way the audience can actually understand who Jim is by understanding the actions that Twain tells us that he has committed. For example, Jim steals apples from a farmer and knocks out the guard dog; if this incident were to be mentioned in a Sunday school book, Jim would surely be spanked. However, since this story is spoken about as if it is a reality, Jim was able to move on with his life freely with no consequences for everyone must commit mistakes in order to grow in life.

The next story presented is that of a boy named Jacob Blivens in “The Story of the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper”. In this story, Twain introduces the good boy by stating all the actions he chooses to never commit. These actions include being late for school, robbing birds’ nests, lying, playing marbles on Sunday…all things that he would never do. Similar to the story of Jim who was the bad little boy, Twain provides zero context of how his physical description is portrayed to the world. Twain does this to create an emphasis on humanity. Jacob is just a minor example of false teachings in life. Humans are often told in order to live a prosperous life; one must commit prosperous actions and lead an innocent life. Well, in this case, Jacob tries to lead a “good” life yet he always seems to find himself in a ditch of distress. The dilemmas that Jacob faces eventually lead to his death where he stops children from irritating dogs next to a factory where he ends up getting blamed for the incident and soon gets blown to bits. This story portrays an image of modern society’s teachings to the youth and provides satire to create a depiction of human greed. Twain uses Jacob Bilvins as a representation of children who expect something in return when doing the “right” thing, which in itself would nullify the intentions of doing good things.

In conclusion, Mark Twain uses parody and satire in these two stories to bring enlightenment to a much more complex concept in humanity. In the story of the bad little boy, Twain presents the idea that humans should live their lives individually and not follow the teachings that humans since youth. Most people are taught that doing bad things lead to bad consequences whereas Jim was able to contradict that statement for he chose to be his own individual and take the risks of being what can be considered as an “outsider”. However, in contrast to the story of the good little boy, Jacob tries his best to follow the teachings of Sunday school for he thinks it shall repay him later on in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Jacob only chooses to do good things because he believes that he will be repaid with a “good” life which contradicts the idea of “good” in the first place. Within these stories, Twain focuses on the corrupt and hypocritical society that we humans inhabit and that what we are taught throughout life is not necessarily always true, for every human will encounter success and failure within his life and those are two aspects of society humans just cannot escape.

Alhassan B.

Mark Twain Introducing a Character

David Lodge’s Introducing a Character to Mark Twain Blog Post

Surely one of the most important aspects needed to determine when reading a novel is identifying who the characters are. Introducing a character is not as simple as it sounds; there are many complex ways and methods. David Lodge emphasizes the complexity of introducing a character in one of his chapters from “The Art of Fiction”. The points made by David Lodge are very evident when reading “The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain”.

David Lodge explains that each character’s method of being introduced is different depending on their role; for example, there are flat, minor, or major characters (Lodge 67). Lodge mentions that the most common way to introduce a character in older fiction is by providing a physical description and giving a biographical summary (68). However, within the modern fiction that is often read today, the author usually chooses to develop the character throughout the story (69). In modern fiction, the author usually introduces the characters by conveying the actions of the characters to the readers allowing them to observe the characters’ sense of personality.

The first story presented in “The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain” is titled the “The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief”. The title in itself provides a minor introduction to the main character of the story. It is important for the reader to keep in mind that the entire story is told in a third person perspective implying that everything said about the main character, Jim, is how he is portrayed to all surrounding people. The narrator begins the story by comparing Jim to other bad children and the characteristics that those “bad” children possess. He states that most bad children that are read about are named “James” and that they usually all have “sick mothers” who are unable to provide guidance for their children. Twain provides no physical description for Jim, the purpose of this can be inferred that Twain tries to make a connection to not only one specific case of bad little boy but perhaps he tries to coincide the story of Jim to the lives of thousands of young children for this is a repetitive story that humanity witnesses throughout all of history. The only way the audience can actually understand who Jim is by understanding the actions that Twain tells us that he has committed. For example, Jim steals apples from a farmer and knocks out the guard dog; if this incident were to be mentioned in a Sunday school book, Jim would surely be spanked. However, since this story is spoken about as if it is a reality, Jim was able to move on with his life freely with no consequences for everyone must commit mistakes in order to grow in life.

The next story presented is that of a boy named Jacob Blivens in “The Story of the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper”. In this story, Twain introduces the good boy by stating all the actions he chooses to never commit. These actions include being late for school, robbing birds’ nests, lying, playing marbles on Sunday…all things that he would never do. Similar to the story of Jim who was the bad little boy, Twain provides zero context of how his physical description is portrayed to the world. Twain does this to create an emphasis on humanity. Jacob is just a minor example of false teachings in life. Humans are often told in order to live a prosperous life; one must commit prosperous actions and lead an innocent life. Well, in this case, Jacob tries to lead a “good” life yet he always seems to find himself in a ditch of distress. The dilemmas that Jacob faces eventually lead to his death where he stops children from irritating dogs next to a factory where he ends up getting blamed for the incident and soon gets blown to bits. This story portrays an image of modern society’s teachings to the youth, and provides satire to create a depiction of human greed. Twain uses Jacob Bilvins as a representation of children who expect something in return when doing the “right” thing, which in itself would nullify the intentions of doing good things.

In conclusion, Mark Twain uses parody and satire in these two stories to bring enlightenment to a much more complex concept in humanity. In the story of the bad little boy, Twain presents the idea that humans should live their lives individually and not following the teachings that humans since youth. Most people are taught that doing bad things lead to bad consequences whereas Jim was able to contradict that statement for he chose to be his own individual and take the risks of being what can be considered as an “outsider”. However, in contrast to the story of the good little boy, Jacob tries his best to follow the teachings of Sunday school for he thinks it shall repay him later on in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Jacob only chooses to do good things because he believes that he will be repaid with a “good” life which contradicts the idea of “good” in the first place. Within these stories, Twain focuses on the corrupt and hypocritical society that we humans inhabit and that what we are taught throughout life is not necessarily always true, for every human will encounter success and failure within his life and those are two aspects of society humans just cannot escape.

Alhassan B.

Repetition within Mark Twain’s short stories.

“Hemingway rejects traditional rhetoric, he instead implies it in a more meaningful way”.

As one learns the truth of their surroundings they either adapt to understand it or are confused by it. David Lodges satirical ideology can be seen within Mark Twain’s stories through the usage of repetition. Repetition places emphasis on a certain word or action, and when a word is repeated it is often compared to other instances of it being used. Within both of Mark Twains stories ofThe Story of The Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief” and “The Story of The Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper” Mark Twain’s conveys satirical messages through Ernest Hemingway’s style of repetition.

Within the first short story Mark Twain uses key terms repeatedly to show their importance. For example, within the story it repeats the difference in the protagonist’s name and how it is Jim and not the James of the bad boys in the typical Sunday school stories. For example, “But it was different with this fellow. He was named Jim”, “bad little boys are nearly always called James in your Sunday-school books”. “It was strange, but still it was true that this one was called Jim.” This was all to convey the notion that “everything turned out differently with him from the way it does to the bad James in the books.” The stories focus is on Jim’s misdeeds as a child. However, when Jim becomes an adult his violent actions are glossed over.

In the opposite short story of The Story of The Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper it provides the complimentary message. Even good members of society can be unfairly incriminated by society. This is exemplified through the repeated examples of Jim doing foul actions and walking away scot free while at times punishing Jacob for his misdeeds. “Jim fell out of the tree too, but he fell on him, and broke his arm and Jim wasn’t hurt at all.” The good boy Jacob learns that society doesn’t reward its members based on their good behavior. He learns like all mature individuals of the world of the harsh possibility that society may not punish the wicked but actually reward them. He is confused and angry at such a realization and dies regretful. “Whatever this boy did, he got into trouble. The very things the boys in the books got rewarded for turned out to be about the most unprofitable things he could invest in.

His satire can be seen through the way the story is told and the narrators reactions to it. Twain makes the reader realize the hypocrisy adults ultimately accept in society. Adults teach their kids to abide by certain ideals that aren’t necessarily true in the real world. They participate in a morally corrupt, materialistic society and accept it. The bad boy realizes that the ideals taught are not the truth and uses it to his advantage to commit bad deeds while benefiting from the people beside him. In the end he becomes praised and looked up to within society while committing the atrocities that he did. This is clearly seen within the last few lines of the story as it depicts him as a respected man within society and part of the cities “legislature” despite having cheated and killed members of his own family. This abrupt twist depicts how we elect those that are morally depraved and place them in positions of power and respect when they deserve none.

Within “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It” the character “Misto C” doubts the hardship of his “Aunt Rachel” as she seems to never be gloomy. This shows both the carelessness and ignorance of the privileged when looking at those of lower status. “Misto C” could have never guessed that his “Aunt Rachel” struggled as she seemed fine and jolly on the exterior. He never payed attention to her struggles and assumed that she never had any trouble within her 60 years of life because of her ever-smiling face. This can be seen when he asks, “Aunt Rachel, how is it that you’ve lived sixty years and never had any trouble?”. The subject in question Aunt Rachel replies “Misto C, is you in arnest” (earnest), incredulous that he could possibly believe she’s lived a life without hardship especially because she was, as he put it “colored” and “our servant”. She goes on to reveal her life which was filled with loss. The loss of her husband and six of her seven kids. The only comfort in her life is her reuniting with her last son. Repetition can be seen here to show Aunt Rachels extreme anger and personality. These emotions destroy the notion which “Misto C” came up with which is she’s lived without any trouble. She repeats a phrase her mother used to say in times of extreme anger.  “I want you to understan’ dat i wa’n’t bawn in de mash to be fool’ by trash! I ‘s one o’ de ole Blue Hens Chickens, I is!”. The second mention of this phrase is when her son tore his wrist and hurt his head her mother said the same thing and bandaged the child herself as nobody else did. “So I says dat word, too, when I’s riled.” The third instance is when some of the young black soldiers went into the kitchen and disturbed her which is how her son started recollecting his memories. After Rachel does recognize her son she “oh, no, Misto C, I aint had no trouble. A’n no joy!” Mark Twain subtly refers to the lack of empathy and ignorance that the higher echelons of society have. This belief that Aunt Rachel lived a life with no troubles is invalid as seen in the cases of repetition of the phrase only occurs in times of anger or distraught.

Within the “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” Adam initially dislikes the changes that Eve brings to “the Garden of Eden”. The stereotypical views he holds about Eve seems to encompass stereotypical views about women as well. She proposes new names, rules and creates change within the Garden. He complains of these changes and deems them “unnecessary” and extra.” “There seems to be too much legislation, too much fussing, and fixing, and tidying up.” Another example of this would be the “Keep off the grass” sign. This was a sign that was put up by Eve. This action shows how Adam didn’t want the changes that occurred initially with Eves arrival but seems to accept her antics later. Twain uses societies stereotypical characteristics of women to portray them in a negative light within Adams diary. This is done by emphasizing the actions of Eve that displease Adam. For example, on Tuesday Adam reports that “she has littered the whole estate with execrable names and offensive signs: This way to the whirlpool”. One problem Adam has is the inability to question Eve and her stereotypical attitude of constant nagging and never being satisfied. “It is best not to ask her, she has such a rage for explaining”. This coupled with the amount of times which Eve is unsatisfied with Adam leaves him frustrated. “not satisfactory to her, went over in a tub- still not satisfactory. Tedious complaints about my extravagance. I am too much hampered here. What I need is a change of scene”. Later, Lodge progresses the story by depicting Eve as a harbinger of trouble as she eats the forbidden fruit and introduces death into the world. Not only does Eve disregard Adams warnings she tries to blame the catastrophe on him using very flawed reasoning. This again depicts a negative stereotype of women, they never take the blame or admit to their mistakes. Eve says that because Adam jested around the time of the catastrophe and ate a “chestnut”, or as the serpent put it an “aged or moldy joke”. However, in the end Adam reminisces about the past and feels as if Eves boisterous voice is better than silence. This is due to him recognizing the positive stereotypes of women, such as the “goodness of their hearts and sweetness of their spirit.”

By repeating certain actions or phrases Twain places emphasis on them. This conveys a message about society. This shows us that as we learn the truth of our surroundings we either adapt to understand it or are confused by it. In the case of “The Story of The Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief” and “The Story of The Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper” Jim understands and takes advantage of this truth whereas Jacob cannot and suffers by imitating the wishful Sunday stories. In “A True Story, Repeated Word For Word As I Heard It” “Mister C” cannot fathom the possibility of Aunt Rachel suffering as she was in a lower status and he hadn’t seen her sad. This disregard or carelessness lead him to be confuddled when he heard about her strife. Within the “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” Twain exemplifies the negative stereotypical characteristics of women onto Eve’s character and repeatedly showcases instances of each negative stereotype. Adam, the representative of males, however understands Eve’s good side and prefers her company compared to running away from her in the beginning.