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Washington Irving and Samuel Clemens - Essay Example

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Washington Irving and Samuel Clemens are both accomplished American writers who used humor in their writing. In “Rip Van Winkle,” Irving tells the story of a somewhat lazy man who falls asleep in the Kaatskill Mountains and wakes up twenty years later to find that the American Revolution has taken place. Clemens’ story “Cannibalism in the Cars” is about the tall-tale an old retired politician tells a stranger he meets about the time he and a group of men were trapped on a train in a snowstorm and resorted to cannibalism. Samuel Clemens’ takes the same approach as Irving in “Cannibalism in the Cars.” The old man at the train station telling the story sounds perfectly sane as he gives the details surrounding the snowstorm that trapped the train with its “crested waves of a stormy sea” and the hunger that “dawned up as gaunt and haggard and hopeless a company of men as ever stood in the shadow of death”. And after seven days of hunger, it is even understandable to the reader that the starving men may think of cannibalism. What is not as plausible is the way they form a congressional body to debate, vote, re-vote, and re-debate who will be eaten – in language that sounds like the pompous and formal operations of Congress. A conversation that is essentially each man saying “not it!” turns into sentences like: “The gentleman from Oregon is old, and furthermore is bulky only in bone – not in flesh”

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Summary

Washington Irving and Samuel Clemens are both accomplished American writers who used humor in their writing. In “Rip Van Winkle,” Irving tells the story of a somewhat lazy man who falls asleep in the Kaatskill Mountains and wakes up twenty years later to find that the American Revolution has taken place. …
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