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Twain Assignment

Two view of Mississippi provides an interesting insight into the mind of a veteran in steam boating. In life human reasoning is guided by perspective and experience. Decisions are often based on how one comprehends situations leading to a particular behavior. While it is argued that learned abilities often morph to instincts due to the repeated practice, some situations defy the norm forcing one to act depending on their understanding of the situation at hand. If fir instance, one is a trained and experienced driver, when faced with the possibility of an accident, such an individual relies not just on the experience but their gut. Irrespective of the level learning, instincts can never be replaced, however, learning creates innate capabilities. In the excerpt, Twain has gained immense experience in his practice of steam boating. He initially enjoyed the environment he worked in, but with time he got used to the beauty until developed into something else. He does not state what exactly the beauty has developed into but one can guess that the beauty has become normalcy. Despite the loss of beauty due to the experience in steam boating, Twain acknowledges that the river has life threatening dangers. The paper analyzes Twain’s Two Views of the River elaborating on the conflict in the excerpt and discussing the quality of writing depicted. The analysis will also examine the figurative language used and its relevance in communicating the author’s message to the reader.

The setting of the passage is on a river, with the author describing the sunset. The opening statement use a simile to highlight the extensive knowledge that the author has gained with regards to the river. Twain then explains the impact of the knowledge gained using a paradox; he had made a valuable acquisition and lost something that could not be restored. The use of a paradox as part of the introductory statement forces the reader to look for a deeper meaning in the passage. The author wants the reader to think deeper and read further to get the underlying message. Personifying the river underscores the author’s experience and knowledge of its environment. The author goes on to explain the features of the river; he notes “that there as many-tinted as an opal.” An opal is mineral with the capability of diffracting light depending on the conditions to produce different colors. The use of similes in describing enables the reader to get a better understanding of how Twain viewed the river. The author offers two points of view of the nature of water in the river; “the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings” and “a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines.” The contrast provides the reader with clearer picture of how the river looked like in the eyes of the author. The contrast is also in line with the two views the author has about the river. The analysis continues with the personification of the shadow by referring to as sombre.

The use of personification communicates the mood created by the shadow on the river. Shadows are black and the color depicts a sombre mood. Sad moment such as death are often depicted by a black theme color. Twain then describes the shadow to be “broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver.” The use of the simile in the statement highlights the magnitude of the effect of the rays on the river surface. The analysis then uses personification to create a candid image of the dead tree. Generally, “dead” is not a word associated with trees and its use reveal the ubiquitous nature of the tall tree. Twain notes that the “dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame.” Naturally, waving is an act that is only executed by those with hands. There is also a simile to emphasize the impact of the sun rays on the dead tree. Interestingly, the author notes that tree was dead, but again, its main branch was leafy implying it was not dead. The use of the paradox in explaining the imagery of the setting is to engage the reader further and require them to seek a deeper meaning to the passage. As earlier highlighted, Twain, in his opening statement gave two conflicting experiences about the river; he said he gained something valuable and lost something that could not be replaced in his lifetime. The use of paradox, therefore, may be explained as a consistency in keeping the two views. After describing the image of the setting, the author then shifts attention to himself. The use of a simile “stood like one bewitched” demonstrate the author’s confusion. He then accepts the situation as it is describing it as “drinking it with a speechless rapture.”

Personifying his acceptance and understanding of the situation reveals that Twain had engaged his mind fully with regard to the situation. A “speechless rapture” is a reference to how he felt in his bewitched like thinking about the river. Rapture in Christianity is often used to describe a moment of great tribulations where wailing and gnashing of teeth will be experienced by sinners. The author then reveals that the appreciation of the river’s beauty ceased in the course of his steam boating work. He no longer saw the glories and charms that the moon, the sun and the twilight shone on the river’s face. The personification of the river creates a candid image of river. Twain then notes that his confusion was unfounded and he should have been more critical of the river. The sunshine was bound to evaporate the river waters creating wind, the log floating conspicuously implied that the water level in the river was rising and slanting mark was an indication of a bluff ret that posed a danger to a steamboat pilot like himself. The tumbling boils indicate a changing channel and the circles in the slick water indicate that the water is becoming shallower. The dead tree described earlier also poses a threat as it is located above the best place in which the author had found fish for steamboats. The shadow effect of the trees was also a threat at night as he found it difficult to navigate as there were no land marks. Twain appreciates that view of the river changed after he learnt to pilot a riverboat. Twain lost the ability to appreciate and the beauty fronted by a river.

But what had changed? His first experience witnessing a sunset on the river was beautiful and fulfilling. He uses a positive and enthusiastic language to describe the same; “majestic reflections of the fading sunlight and delicate waves.” After time elapses, he begins to see the river in different light. The river was no longer beautiful but dangerous with upcoming winds from the sunset which threatened his life. The romance and the beauty were no longer synonymous with the river. In his view, all the value and features of the river was gone and all he could see was the threat the river posed to his job. He concludes the analysis by alluding his experience to that of a doctor treating a pretty lady. Twain says that he feels sorrow for the misfortunes of doctors. Their profession robs them the chance to appreciate beauty among patients they treat since they are aware of the health conditions affecting the beautiful ladies who are part of their patients.

Clearly analyzing the excerpt reveals that Twain had a thorough understanding of the river. He also seems to have lost more than he gained from the same river. Though he notes that the river once appeared beautiful and amazing, the dangers it poses are a challenge to his life and trade. Much as he would want to view the river as beautiful and interesting, the reality is different. The lesson Twain is trying to communicate is that focusing on the external features may create an illusion that is replaced by reality upon experience. In life we yearn for new things and tend to shun what we already have that appears old. The excerpt demonstrates that despite the positive attributes that one may initially see and appreciate about something, experience is bound to change the view. However, a further research on the autobiography of Mark Twain reveals that he found the time spent on the river to be the most interesting and worthwhile. Why the change of heart? I am of the opinion that human emotions and thoughts are misleading and inconsiderate. It is amazing that humans often sacrifice their lives to get something, but as soon as they lay hands on it, they want something totally different. While psychologist argue that it is this drive that pushes an individual’s life, I am of the opinion that inexperience is explains phenomena better. The illusion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the river tends to affect those with little or no experience. Twain also demonstrate the unthankful nature of human beings. The river: despite its dangers - provide a livelihood for Twain. By all means, he ought to have been thankful.