Monday, February 25, 2013

What does Mark Twain want me to believe?

Third Level of Inquiry: Rhetoric Stage Reading

It is noteworthy that Mark Twain would warn anyone not to look for motive, moral, or plot in his novel when there is plenty to examine and discuss.  Here is one rhetoric question from the TWEM:

What does the writer want me to believe, and am I convinced?

Abolish Human Abortion
            Mark Twain demonstrates meticulously how uncivilized civilization can truly be.  If we, as a culture, are taught inhuman ideas,  our conscience will reflect those ideas as truth.  For example, in Huck’s time, pre-American Civil War, prejudices were acceptable by a portion of the nation, even by Christians and educated people.  The prevailing notion was that blacks were not capable of raising a family, being educated, or even loving or feeling.  Accepting such ideas made the argument for slavery actually reasonable for many.

            The idea is confounding that a “civilized” society could hold such ignorant ideas.  However, Huck figured out through personal experience that Jim was a good friend, kind, loyal, and capable of feeling; therefore, Huck questioned what society had taught about blacks, or more particularly, Jim.   Huck may have been uneducated and only a poor boy, but he was full of common sense and had a tender conscience toward human feelings.

            I am easily convinced of Twain’s argument, even though he claims he does not have one.  One example of today’s uncivilized civilization behaving precisely like Huck's has to do with abortion.  I know it is a difficult subject to discuss, and that is because our conscience has adopted some of the lies given for the case of such a practice.  We have rejected common sense for the selfishness of society.  

Abolish Human Abortion
           To mirror Twain’s thoughts on society: abortion is practiced to benefit others, just as slavery was in Huck's time; the vulnerable are always taken advantage of.  

           I won’t get into it here, but abortion is completely uncivilized, and like slavery, it is perfectly evil and must be abolished.  


Anonymous said...

I found your blog last night and I was so thrilled!! What wonderfully insightful and detailed posts! You inspire all us readers who want to tackle the classics but are unsure of where to start! Brava!

Ruth said...

Thank you so much for your generous words! Susan Wise Bauer's book gave me the inspiration I needed to get started and the confidence to keep reading those books which intimidated me. I hope others have the same experience when they begin reading the classics, too.

Maria said...

You have introduced a great piece of analysis of Mark Twain and his works. I have never considered his novels as those that have deep meaning. You inspired me to reread his books. Thanks!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Maria. Honestly, I would have never known to read any book this deeply had I not read The Well Educated Mind. It really gets all the credit.

Joseph said...

Since this is last book I completed, I decided to check out your review. Well said. I enjoyed Huck Finn, though as I said in my own blog, not as much as Tom Sawyer. I have to concede though, there is a greater message in Huck FInn. Cheers Joseph