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Mark Twain's The War-Prayer - Essay Example

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Although Mark twain wrote “The War-Prayer” over a century ago, no doubt that had he been alive today, he would have written the same thing. This is because with what is occurring in the world today, with the role played by the U.S. in its interventions in conflicts in other nations;…
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Mark Twains The War-Prayer
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Download file to see previous pages As Twain writes about the minister trying to encourage and incite patriotism among the people, he also writes about a pale stranger, apparently a Messenger from God, who walks up in front of the congregation to make the people realize the unspoken reality of what they are pushing for. Through this Messenger's words, Twain allows the people to vividly realize the horrifying realities of violence and death they have seem to be blindly asking for (Kiskis, 2009). Twain writes:
Ponder this --- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time...When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory --- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. (1998,, p.365-6)
In this short story, Twain is making people see that this extreme sense of nationalism and self-righteousness usually make people blind to the results of their actions (Kiskis, 2009). Should one look closely into Twain's rhetoric of irony, Americans would begin to realize that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness does not go along the principle of waging wars even if “We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts (Twain, 1998, p.366). Should one look closely into Twain's rhetoric of irony, Americans would begin to realize that if there is the belief that all men are created equal, this equality should not be limited within the U.S. territory, and limited to be granted only to those who share the same American ideologies. Should one look closely into Twain's rhetoric of irony, Americans would begin to realize that the true sense of nationalism should be reflected through the Americans' push for the extension of the principles, on which the great nation was founded on, to lands and people beyond their jurisdiction. Irony in “The War-Prayer” The point in this short story is simple: that to desire victory for one's self is to desire defeat and destruction for the other (Lock, 2009). One cannot miss how the silent prayer for victory is pleaded unto “ Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend” (Twain, 1998, p.366), and that it is done so “in the spirit of love” (Twain, 1998, p.366). Even in the end, the congregation failed to absorb the Messenger's message. In the final line of the short story, Twain writes, “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said” (Twain, 1998, p.366). Those who support the idea of war believe that nationalism is about advancing the interests of America by expanding the territories over which it has great influence. On the other hand, those who are against the idea of war believe that liberty and autonomy are for every people of every race. These same liberty and autonomy are, as mentioned earlier, the principles whereupon America was founded, and even defended on behalf of other nations. This therefore means that the only way to honestly talk about war is to look at war from both sides of the coin. Thus, Twain's use of dual meanings in the short story is not only effective in showing both sides in a single swipe, but is also effective in “exposing both the image and the realities of war” (Zehr, 2009). However, one can only speak of the image of war because if a person speaks of its realities, the person will be blamed --- as what ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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