“The War Prayer” Twain Analysis

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What is patriotism? In today’s society, when hearing the word patriotism most people first think of the United States flag waving high in the air, the colors red, white, and blue, or the fireworks and parades on the fourth of July. There is more to patriotism than Just these symbols and events. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of patriotism is “love for or devotion to one’s country. ” Patriotism may be viewed in a positive way or a negative way depending on the arson’s perspective, the period in history, or simply how a person was raised.

Within Hellhole’s “Edith” and Twain’s “The War Prayer” one can find contrasting examples to illustrate the multiple perspectives of patriotism. To begin with, Twain describes our country’s attitude towards the war throughout his short story, “The War Prayer. ” He starts by describing the scene off patriotic parade. He writes, “The drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering. ” These words set a Joyful, rood, and excited tone to the story. The young men have volunteered to fight in the war in pursuit of victory for their country.

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Patriotism is one’s love for the country. Twain really brings this to the reader’s attention by the selfless devotion of the preachers, mothers, fathers, sisters and sweethearts who are cheering graciously for their young men who have volunteered to fight. The community gathers in churches to pray for the young men’s victory, and to beseech upon their god for aid in the war. Once the war has ceased, the young men return home “submerged in golden seas of lorry. ” This is another example of how Twain wants readers to understand how the young men were enveloped with the gratitude of their dear ones and their fellow man.

Although this short story begins with a positive tone, it ends in a much different manner. Furthermore, Twain shows the opposing perspective of patriotism by the statement of a messenger, who appears during the preacher’s long prayer. Twain gives the reader a visualization of a church filled with the whole town; there to give thanks to the young men who have fought to protect them and their community. The ambiance quickly changes when this aged stranger stands upon the audience and begins to speak.

This man was portrayed in the story as a messenger from God. When reading the description Twain gives of this man’s appearance, one could believe this man symbolizes the almighty Jesus. Throughout the strange man’s message, he explains in great depth the actuality of war and the detriment war causes. Twain uses some very explicit examples such as “to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds,” “lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire,” and “their title children to wander unverified the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger. The messenger is making the town think beyond themselves. Praying for their own safety also requires the death of others. The use of these examples really allows the reader to feel the divergent sides of war. “The War Prayer” enlightens the reader to these varying aspects of patriotism. Another example can be found in Hellhole’s short story “Edith,” which depicts a young woman’s beliefs on war and her Telling AT kneeing a man to prove Tanat nee Is worthy to nave near love seen wants n to be a hero, her hero.

Edith was described as a strong supporter of the war with dedicated patriotism. Howell goes in depth to elaborate on Death’s thoughts of how a man who fights in a war resembles a man fighting for her love. Although George, Death’s lover, is not in favor of the war, he enlists anyway. Edith goes on to explain to George that “now the war is here, there are no two sides anymore. There is nothing now but our country. ” Howell uses George’s background to elaborate on his reluctance to sign up for the war. His father lost an arm while fighting in the Civil War.

Ever since his father’s return from the Civil War, George was taught that war is a foolish thing. George would rather see both sides work out their problems reasonably. Edith is unaware of George’s father’s participation in the Civil War when she discusses with George the strong need for him to support his country. However, the author uses Death’s words to demonstrate patriotism by stating, “she could not accept a forced sacrifice. ” You cannot be forced to love your country and want to fight or your country; it must come from within.

The author also mentions how war affects the opposing side’s soldiers when he writes, muff thought it would be k for George to kill the son’s of the miserable mothers. ” It sets more of a negative tone of war and is another example of how this author shows multiple perspectives of patriotism. In summary, once you have read ‘The War Prayer’ by Mark Twain and “Edith” by Howell it becomes clear as to the contrasting views and opinions of patriotism. Patriotism is not only about the celebration of your country, or showing support for he country, but also about those who make sacrifices in times of war.

Patriotism as portrayed in these short stories is one’s love for their country or ones willingness to fight for their country regardless of the consequences.

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“The War Prayer” Twain Analysis. (2017, Sep 07). Retrieved from


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