As the United States grew as a nation, it developed its own identity throughout literature and other arts. While American Literature initially mimicked the styles of its European counterparts, by the turn of the twentieth century, two uniquely American movements had emerged: Realism and Naturalism (Levine 7). Realism is characterized by informal language and middle class characters creating a familiarity for the audience when reading (Levine 7). This literary movement can be found throughout the works of many of the time period’s authors, including Samuel L. Clemens, commonly known by his pen name, Mark Twain (Levine 112). In one particular work of his, “The War Prayer”, Twain uses common themes of Realism in order to illustrate his point and establish a connection with the reader. Twain utilizes vivid imagery and vernacular language to more effectively capture a common event that the general public would be familiar with during the time period the piece was written in and voice his opinions on decisive issues regarding war. Considering the response to the story’s message and how this response has evolved over time, historical criticism can be used to demonstrate how “The War Prayer” is within the literary style of Realism. “The War Prayer”, though short in length, is filled with illustrative language that creates a relatable scene for its audience. Written in the early 1900’s, Twain connects the audience to the story by creating a realistic depiction of a Sunday church
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Mark Twain" The war prayer" and Williams dean Howell "Editha" both compare their stories to war; they were impelling the characters into something that can cause death. Twain and Howell both contradicted they stories off war that really didn’t take places. The stories were both romanticism. Howells was very much opposed to war and especially the Spanish-American War, which he considered imperialistic. The story impales Editha, who embodies all the nonsense about the heroic romanticism of war and whose false sense of values drives her unfortunate fiancé to a premature death in a questionable war. Howell made it story based off currently everyday situation of manipulative. Twain “War Prayer was devastating indictment of war, and particularly
PRAISE BE TO THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA THE BEGINNING AND THE END. I GIVE YOU THANKS AND PRAISE FOR YOUR GOODNESS, YOUR MERCY, AND YOUR GRACE. I GIVE YOU THANKS FOR A MIND TO PRAY, A HEART TO SEEK YOUR FACE, AND THE AUTHORITY TO BRING MY MEMBERS UNDER SUBJECTION. I THANK-YOU FOR THIS MOMENT AND THE OPPORTUNITY EACH DAY BRINGS, I KNOW THAT EACH DAY IS SPECIAL AND I HAVE POWER, FULFILLMENT, AND UNLIMITED ,POTENTIAL. THERE ARE NO CEILING’S ON MY LIFE, OBSTACLES THAT CANNOT BE OVERCOME, NOR BARRIERS THAT STAND IN MY WAY. IN FACT THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE, AND I AM FREE TO EXERCISE ALL OF THE GIFTS AND TALENTS YOU HAVE BLESSED ME WITH. MY HOPES AND
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by the pseudonym Mark Twain, has been central to American literature for over a century. His seemingly effortless diction accurately exemplified America’s southern culture. From his early experiences in journalism to his most famous fictional works, Twain has remained relevant to American writing as well as pop culture. His iconic works are timeless and have given inspiration the youth of America for decades. He distanced himself from formal writing and became one of the most celebrated humorists. Mark Twain’s use of the common vernacular set him apart from authors of his era giving his readers a sense of familiarity and emotional connection to his characters and himself.
He gives many examples of the unspoken words of all the victory prayers. Twain writes, “O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst.” The realism here comes from how terrible the aftermath of war really is. People die, wives lose husbands, children lose homes and it effects
War has the ability to change many things about the world. While most associate the changes of war with boundaries and governments, people often forgot the influence it has over society and culture. The United States experienced a change similar to this shortly after the Civil war. Citizens were shown the brutality and devastation of war which lead to them having a grim outlook on the world. This viewpoint inspired a new generation of artists and authors who ,with their combined works, created Realism. Writers like Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Abraham Cahan, Ambrose Bierce, and Henry James pushed the drastic shift from feelings to reality in the hopes of appealing to the more literate working class. Many stories, in order to capture reality, relied on similar techniques and themes such as: simplicity, truth, and criticism.
Twain recounted his war experiences for an audience in October of 1877 at a dinner for the Boston Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. He spoke before the dinner recounting his actual Civil War experience. Twain said, “I was made Second Lieutenant and Chief Mogul of a company of eleven men, who knew nothing about-war - nor anything, for we had no Captain. My friend, who was 19 years old…and just out of the infant school, was made Orderly Sergeant. His name was Ben Tupper. He had a hard time.” Important from his statement is the confirmation that Twain actually held the exact position of the narrator of his story and also the consistent youth and inexperience of the troops. The theme of inexperience is continued in his story many times over. An example of which can be seen when the narrator describes the daily activities of the men, “afternoons, we rode off here and there in squads a few miles and visited the farmer’s girls and had a youthful good time…” These are not the action of hardened killers. Rather, they are those of innocent and ignorant boys that have the misinterpretation that they are fighting a war. This very innocence could be that which Twain shared with his “narrator” at an actual time in history when he too was playing war with the Marion Rangers.
The literary rebellion, known as realism, established itself in American writing as a direct response to the age of American romanticism’s sentimental and sensationalist prose. As the dominance of New England’s literary culture waned “a host of new writers appeared, among them Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Mark Twain, whose background and training, unlike those of the older generation they displaced, were middle-class and journalistic rather than genteel or academic” (McMichael 6). These authors moved from tales of local color fiction to realistic and truthful depictions of the complete panorama of American experience. They wrote about uniquely American subjects in a humorous and everyday
In the short story or prose poem, Mark Twain uses all types of rhetorical devices such as metaphor, alliteration, and diction and many more. This allows to build up an intense way of grabbing the reader’s attention. In the short story, this is manly about how the war is great news and an “aged stranger” is saying be careful of what you pray for. The War Prayer offers a poignant reflection on the double- edged moral sword implicit to war.
Twain describes the time of war as “a glad and gracious time,” and the victorious soldiers as “bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory!” His positive description of imperialism represents the common belief that war is a glorious event and a source of pride for the victors. Twain also describes those against the war, but in a negative light: “the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning...” Twain’s description of anti-imperialists and the treatment they received from others shows how unpopular and seemingly insane their ideas were. Though Twain himself was an anti-imperialist, he describes them in a negative way to gain readers. Most Americans in the early 1900’s were imperialists, and through a positive and prideful description of imperialism at the beginning of his essay, Twain is able to draw in many readers he would have offended if he wrote only of the horrors of imperialism. Twain’s word choice drew in more readers, causing many to now question imperialism. Twain’s word choice describing both pro- and anti-imperialists widens his audience, and his thoughts on the effects of imperialism are seen by more readers. His word choice effectively spreads his message.
In today’s day and age, people don’t comprehend what wishing for war actually means. They are wishing for people to go out and die for their country, while they sit at home, far away, safe, and out of danger. People who do this might know what war entails, but don’t think of the consequences it brings. Mark Twain’s satire piece, The War Prayer shares how people are unaware of what war brings to a society. Twain uniquely uses satire, in the form of irony, to demonstrate society’s obliviousness about what they are wishing to occur or take place.
Realism, Naturalism, and Regionalism are just a few examples of the many styles of writing that exist. Each style of writing deals with a specific time period. Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat”, Henry James’s “Daisy Miller”, and Mary E Wilkins Freeman’s “The Revolt of Mother” are just a few examples of the literary works that represent these time periods. These literary works are perfect examples of the specific time periods each writing style was popular among certain authors. These stories allow readers to compare the modern times that we live in currently to the period these authors were in. They also allow the reader to branch out and be different.
“The War Prayer” by Samuel L. Clemens, is his attempt to force the public to realize the implicit outcome of praying for victory in war, which inevitably is death. His use of irony and hyperbole is evident in this clever narrative. The passage satirically describes how a very religious town comes together during a time of war to pray for the downfall of the enemy and the triumph of their men. An old man then comes into the church and prays the same exact prayer that the townspeople are praying without concealing the truth. Clemens uses the old man to identify his purpose of the narrative, ignorance to war.
"Authors began to focus their writing on ordinary people and their everyday lives" which caused the shift from Romanticism to Realism to begin.Many American authors were influenced by this movement ("Realism"). Realism inspired these authors to take into a deeper meaning the realties of life by further examining the obstacles and circumstances they have undergone (Marshall). The main ideas of literature shifted from giving people supernatural traits to authors portraying humans as the ordinary person ("Realism"). The major theme of this time period was to preserve the foundations that America’s forefathers laid down for the country. The Civil War was ultimately a second chance for the nation to rebuild and gain back the beneficial aspects that were overlooked in times of change. Realism began around the time of the Civil War and ended in early 1900. The changes in the writing styles shifted America’s views on the works of literature in the time period and caused a drastic change in the country (Leonard). Realists wanted to use the diction of the typical person to be able to connect to them and portray the concreteness of life
Dawes, James. The Language of War: Literature and Culture in the U.S. from the Civil War Through World War II. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002. Google books.com. Web. 30 May 2014.
“An Episode of War” by Stephen Crane proves to be a fantastic way to illustrate the stylistics of the American Realist movement. The grit of the war and the formation of the blob army where each person is indistinguishable from the next provides a realistic view on how wars were fought during this time period. The way Crane shows off the world he creates is an intriguing fashion; a man severely wounded walking around with a battle raging on while he is pumping full of adrenaline. “An Episode of War” shows how a nameless character is capable of showing off a world with minimal effort.