"Two Views Of Mississippi" by Mark Twain

Categories: Shooting An Elephant
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In “Two Views of the Mississippi” by Mark Twain, the author recounts his ability to recognize and appreciate beauty in his surroundings early in his career as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, in contrast to his perceptions later in life. He recalls a specific sunset journey where he is able to revel in the brilliance of the river surrounding him, taking note of the small details including the distant golden glow of the water; the simple, yet remarkable passing singularities; and the darkened, crowded shore.

Later, he reflects on how his internal dialogue would differ if he were to experience that same voyage again many years later. The beauty he so easily appreciated in his novice years, would most likely go unnoticed; instead, the sum total of his experience and wealth of knowledge would shed a new light on the meanings of the individual spectacles, causing him to understand them in a more practical way; as warnings of the dangers ahead.

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He likened this shift in mentality to what he believes a medical doctor must experience when examining the human body. After awhile, he assumes that a doctor would be unable to appreciate the body’s separate enchanting characteristics, and instead only see markers pointing to the eventual “decay” the form is destined to. In his conclusion, Mark Twain questions whether the knowledge accumulated in the practice of a profession is worth the loss of being able to cherish the artistry and poetic wonders in our lives.

Shooting an elephant

Based on Orwell’s experience with the Indian Imperial Police (1922-1927), “Shooting an Elephant” is set in Moulmein, in Lower Burma.

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Orwell, the narrator, has already begun to question the presence of the British in the Far East. He says that, theoretically and secretly, he was “all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British.” Orwell describes himself as “young and ill-educated,” bitterly hating his job. Orwell’s job, in this instance, is to respond to a report of the death of a local man who was killed by an elephant in musth. Orwell finds the man “lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to the side.” The corpse grins with “an expression of unendurable agony.” At this point, Orwell feels the collective will of the crowd urging him to shoot the elephant, but Orwell, knowing that the elephant is probably no longer dangerous, has no intention
of shooting the elephant. He begins to anthropomorphize the elephant, changing the pronouns from “it” to “he,” referring to the elephant’s “preoccupied grandmotherly air,” and concluding that “it would be murder to shoot the elephant.”

Despite Orwell’s aversion to shooting the elephant, he becomes suddenly aware that he will lose face and be humiliated if he does not shoot it. He therefore shoots the elephant. The death itself is sustained in excruciating detail. After three shots, the elephant still does not die. Orwell fires his two remaining shots into the elephant’s heart. He sends someone to get his small rifle, then pours “shot after shot into his heart and down his throat.” Still, the elephant does not die. Orwell, unable to stand the elephant’s suffering and unable to watch and listen to it, goes away. The elephant, like the Burmese people, has become the unwitting victim of the British imperialist’s need to save face. No one is stronger for the experience. Orwell candidly depicts his unsympathetic actions both in shooting the elephant and in the aftermath, when he is among his fellow British police officers. He is relieved, he admits, that the coolie died, because it gave him a pretext for shooting the elephant.

As far as his fellow officers are concerned, he did the right thing. As far as the natives are concerned, he saved face. Yet Orwell concludes, “I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.” Throughout the essay, Orwell weaves his thesis about the effects of imperialism not only on the oppressed but on the oppressors, as well. He says that “every white man’s life in the East was one long struggle not to be laughed at,” that “when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys,” and that the imperialist “becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib.” Orwell’s essay, however, is more than one person’s riveting narrative about the beginning of an awareness. “Shooting an Elephant” captures a universal experience of going against one’s own humanity at the cost of a part of that humanity.

My daily dives in the dumpster

The speaker of “Dumpster Diving” would be the author, Lars Eighner. The whole article is composed in first person and the author presents most of his ideas with a very personal voice. Lars Eighner is a male in his middle ages and it can be inferred that he is in stable emotional state. Lars calls himself a scavenger and it is believed that he does not consider himself to be of a low social class. Lars believes that he understands how to live off and gain more from other people.

I am unsure about the occasion of the article, but I believe that it would be when people are going scavenging or when people are distinguishing what foods they can eat. The article would be considered a memory of life as an scavenger and performing dumpster diving.

The audience of this article would be the general public, especially those people that do not clearly understand the way of life as an scavenger. The audience of the article is not specified by the author and the article could have a very general audience.

The purpose of this article is to explain the way of life as an scavenger and how to demonstrate how people are able to live by the minimal resources they can gain. The article is also used to critique on how young people do not understand the world around them and how these young people waste resources that may be valuable to others.

The subject of this article is to describe life as a scavenger, to demonstrate how people can live off minimal resources, and to show an attitude of survival. The most important part of the subject would be the waste of resources versus minimal resources needed for survival.

The tone of the article changes at different points. The tone at the beginning is explanatory and informative, but it changes into a more critical and analytical tone in the end. Lars is very dedicated when he talks about life as a scavenger and “Dumpster Diving” has taught many lessons that may be useful in life.

What Ive learned from men

This essay is one of many that highlights the differences of men and women, and the on-going power struggle of the sexes. Here, Ehrenreich states that if there must be one thing women need to learn from men, it is how to be tough, assertive and authoritative. Women have been born and bred to be the nicer and more passive of the two sexes throughout history. It is just how things are. However, Ehrenreich rejects this kind of manner imposed on women. She says women have every right to act like men, and do not have to assert more effort to get what they deserve or what is due them.

I agree on Ehreneich’s points that women are somewhat expected to be more demure and ladylike, this often causes problems for women. Because of their inherent nature, women have to exert more effort to be recognized and praised for their achievements and accomplishments. The inferiority and weakness associated with this sex must be overcome in order for women to have equal treatment and equal chances as any man has. Unfortunately, history has been unkind to women; therefore they have a lot of work to do before these biases will no longer be a hindrance to women in the society.

I disagree, however, women need to be just like men in order to succeed and be recognized in society. Women can be just as demure and ladylike as they are now, but still have influence over people. the term “silent but deadly” comes to mind when I think of how women use their intelligence and subtle influence on men (and other women). Surely, women do not need to throw tantrums or break objects to be noticed. Men can do what they do best, and so can women. There is a different kind of power and authority within each sex and people just need to learn how to channel that power to achieve what they want.

On the different note, I also noticed the writing style of the author. I felt that she was able to write in such a way that her passion and assertiveness can be heard in her writing. She added a touch of personality in what would have been another ordinary feminist essay. Her examples and narratives in the text were very relatable and modern in the sense that people can picture the scenes happening in their society. This use of language made the essay more influential and closer to home.

Cite this page

"Two Views Of Mississippi" by Mark Twain. (2016, May 31). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/two-views-of-mississippi-by-mark-twain-essay

"Two Views Of Mississippi" by Mark Twain

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