Mark Twain


Russell 1 Jami Russell Mr. Saylor English 3 HN 18 November 1999 Mark Twain had an extreme love for the Mississippi River. His dreams were of becoming a steamboat pilot. Twain inspired others as they looked to him with great knowledge. He wanted to come home in glory as a pilot more than anything. Events in Mark Twain?s life come out in his writings and they are displayed in Life on the Mississippi. Mark Twain was the first American that appeared west of the Mississippi River. He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835. Twain lived along the Mississippi River in the town of Hannibal until the age of eighteen. After his father?s death in 1847, Twain became an apprentice at two Hannibal printers. Most of Twain?s childhood is displayed throughout his work. He recalled his past in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (De Veto 51). Twain?s career began when he was only eleven years old. He worked by editing copies. In 1861 Clemens served briefly as a volunteer soldier in the Confederate cavalry. Later that year he accompanied his brother to the newly created Nevada Territory, where he tried his hand at silver mining. After moving to San Francisco, California, in 1864, Twain met American writers Artemus Ward and Bret Harte, who encouraged him in his work. Later he found a job as a reporter at Territorial Interprise (52). Mark Twain had a life full of writing and full of dreaming. Twain had always dreamed of becoming a steamboat captain and he knew that one day he would accomplish that goal. He viewed the sight of the mighty Mississippi River as steamboats passed with all aspects of humanity. Twain?s dream of becoming a pilot never faded, although many other dreams did. Twain had a passion for the steamboats on the Russell 2 Mississippi River. A pilot was an important and popular way of living. Others thought that it was the best road to take for a career. Mark Twain was determined to become a steamboat pilot, and he would not return home until he had achieved this. He day-dreamed as a child and an adolescent about being a great pilot. Horace Bixby gave Samuel Clemens the name Mark Twain because it meant a depth of twelve feet. Twain wanted to navigate the Mississippi River. He paid Horace Bixby five hundred dollars to teach him how to achieve this (Bloom 155). Not only did Mark Twain have the ability to make others laugh, but he expressed his thoughts about life and his traumatizing realizations of the past through humor in his works. Twain?s style of humor has traveled throughout the world over the years. His broad but subtle humor was tremendously popular (165). Life on the Mississippi is more than just a book about life on the river. It is also reflections on Twain?s life. This book is a true experience of Mark Twain?s traumatizing childhood. It was also a book that was referred to as his "steamboat book." Life on the Mississippi combines an autobiographical account of Twain?s experiences as a river pilot with a visit to the Mississippi nearly two decades after he left it. The whole town got excited when a steamboat was coming down the river. The Mississippi River is seen as the genius Loci of Mark Twain?s imagination. Twain was also a realist when writing his novels. Others became jealous of Twain and his accomplishments (De Veto 52). Not only his dreams but also his fears of the past were a part of this book. In other works of Twain, there was confusion about the audience that would and should be attracted to it. Some of his books were humerous for children but also serious issues for adults. While writing the books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain was not sure if these were children?s books or those for adults. In these writings Twain stated that this was a new way of writing because the literary language was based on the slang of the American society. It took years of writing for the Russell 3 completion of these books and they were thought of as masterpieces that could not be outdone by any other works. The book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck?s adventures provide the reader with a view of American life along