Critical Analysis: Week 2 Story





Critical Analysis: Week 2 Story

The War Prayer by Mark Twain is a sort story that was written during the American-Philippine war between 1899-1902, which offers a poignant illustration of the negative moral implications associated with war and conflicts. Critics note that, faced with disgust in the year 1904 as a result of the implications of the Spanish-American and Philippine American war, Twain developed an anti-war work, despite criticism that it was overly inflammatory given the prevailing views over America’s involvement in global conflict. The narrative espouses mark twain’s anti-imperialist and anti-war sentiments that depicting the role of religious demagogues that usually push people into war and conflict.

He suggests that the livelihoods and stability of communities should not be jeopardized by blind faith and pride, which pushes people into conflict and war. War usually has casualties from the warring factions, resulting in loss of life, property and other monetary losses. In their religious fervor, the members of the community “discard him as a lunatic” (Twain and Neider 27). The poem provides the audience with clear undertones in objecting the need for war and conflict to affirm religiosity and pride. Twain notes that, “No, I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead”, whereby the novel was released after mark twain’s death (Twain and Budd 39).

In the early 1990s, the United States was embroiled in ideologies of imperialism and extending their influences to other states by use of military force. Mark twain’s work argues against the popular ideals and philosophy associated with imperialism. His work was relatively controversial and the publisher Harper’s Bazaar argued that the work was inappropriate for the public. The author utilizes two main characters, a stronger and a priest, to illustrate the differences between anti-imperialism and pro-imperialism. Using the examples, he claims that praying for success in conflict and war is similarly praying for the failure of another state and suffering for its people (Twain and Budd 57).

Twain is effective in providing a revelation of the brutality associated with imperialism using purposeful word choice, irony and powerful closing statements. In using irony, the author is able to convey his theme of religiosity and its role in conflict and war, with consideration that much of his work takes place within a church setting. Despite being in a church, the prayers of the townspeople include hopes that the foe is smitten without any mercy whatsoever. The setting of the novel can be termed as ironic as the people are engaged in prayer hoping for death of other people rather than praying for peace and stability. Despite the townspeople engaging in prayer for the soldiers, they are dutifully praying and hoping for the destruction, death and loss of property in another society (Twain and Neider 44).

The seemingly refers to the hypocrisy inherent in modern places of worship and more so across society. The novel suggests that presence of guilt that is further complicated through racial aspects that plagued the war. A majority of the American solders referred to the Philippines as racially inferior, similar to African Americans. The attitude of the American soldiers serves to inflame the conflict and interactions between the United States and other rival countries. Furthermore, it compounds the imperialistic attitudes that were prevalent across the United States (Twain and Neider 53). The townspeople in the church hold a similar imperialistic, prejudicial and racist ideals which inform their hatred towards other states on the basis of superiority in religious beliefs and pride due to race, social classification and cultural ideals.


Works Cited

Twain, Mark, and Charles Neider. The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. New York?: Da Capo Press, 2000. Print.

Twain, Mark, and Louis J. Budd. Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches & Essays. New York: Library of America, 1992. Print.







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