Sunday, October 2, 2011

The War Prayer

I really enjoyed this reading. It was easy to read and understand. The reading basically sums up the sentiments and emotions felt by a society who is engaged in a war. It is obvious from the beginning of the reading that in any society, religion plays a big factor in stirring up certain emotions in people especially during wartime. This is most obviously seen when Twain mentions the sermons of patriotism and "devotion to flag and country." This theme has been popular with lots of other works we have read including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Whenever society has a major social change, such as slavery, or is engaged in some sort of revolution, such as a war, the church almost always plays some sort of role. People find comfort, security, and peace in religion and their church. If their church approves or condones something, they consequently do the same. Mark Twain makes this point very clear in this particular writing.

The one thing I really like about Twain is that his writing is very straightforward and clear. You never have to really wonder about what exactly he is trying to say. He does this in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through the main character Huck Finn and he does it in this writing through the stranger who exposes their true prayers and what is hidden in the hearts of a country at war. While a country might act like they are simply being patriotic and brave, they are also hoping for hurt and devastation to the country they are at war with. They hope for "shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain" of the enemies. Through this strangers words, Twain is imploring his readers to reconsider what they are praying for, what they are going to war for, and how their actions effect everyone around them. This is most obviously seen when the stranger speaks about the rain on the crop metaphor-"If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it."  This idea is definitely something that we can apply to our society today.  Whenever any country is about to go into a war, it is important to carefully consider every angle and situation possible.  It is a serious action that accompanies many severe consequences.  Often however, people get so caught up in the emotional high that is labelled patriotism and at that moment they don't care about who benefits or is injured by the war that they don't have to see and live every day.
     The most significant part of this reading I think is the very last line when Twain writes, "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said."  Twain knows when writing this that no one is going to slow down and carefully consider the situation but yet he still writes this short story.  Maybe he was writing for future generations?  Twain was obviously a forward thinker who did not "fit in" with the society that he lived in.  I think he had hope for a brighter future however and that is why he wrote the way that he did.


  1. Perhaps he hopes that his readers would examine themselves and their actions after reading this piece. Of course, he was unable to publish it, so...

  2. Good blog and comment participation overall. Keep it up.

  3. I find Twain to be an very intellectual writer. I also find his writings, to be very straightforward and written clearly. I think that is why he is considered to be such an great American writer.