The River By Mark Twain Essay

1010 Words Feb 26th, 2016 5 Pages
In Reading the River, Mark Twain begins by stating that the Mississippi river “had a new story to tell every day,” implying both the extensive beauty and the possibility of a variety of perspectives on the river. Mark Twain, born Samuel L. Clemens, spent much of his life as a riverboat pilot. This occupation inspired his pen name, a leadsman term for the depth at which it was safe to pilot a steamboat. Through many years of experience, he became an expert at navigating the treacherous course of the Mississippi. Reading the River is an excerpt from his memoir Life on the Mississippi in which he describes the many aspects of life on the river. In this passage, Twain contrasts the perspectives of a passenger and a pilot in order to convey his belief that practical knowledge can inhibit one’s outlook on the world and its beauty. First of all, Twain describes the naive, romantic perspective of a steamboat passenger, emphasizing the beauty that they see in the river. He compares the river to a book, suggesting that a passenger “could not read it” but would still be “charmed” by the superficial “pretty pictures” in it. At first, Twain portrays this as a disadvantage, since the passenger does not analyze or appreciate every detail and the deeper meaning of the “book.” However, he continues by demonstrating that this naive view allows a steamboat passenger to appreciate the beauty of the river. Twain uses extensive visual detail when reminiscing about his first steamboating…

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