Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Analysis of "Two Views of a River"

"Two Ways of Seeing a River" is a story by Mark Twain, which reflects the two points of view in which the author has has taken when seeing the river on which he enjoys to travel(Twain 504-505). Not only is this just plain realism, but this story is considered to be a certain type of realism which is known as Naturalism. This story would be considered naturalism because in this story, not only is the story mainly about nature, but the main conflict is also between man and nature, making this a naturalism story(Diamond). The main characteristic that proves that this story is an example of realist writing is the fact that Twain uses very simple writing throughout all of the story(Diamond). The fact that differentiates this works from many other works of realism because unlike other works of realism, "Two Ways of Seeing a River" contains a lot of figurative language(Diamond). For example, within the story, the author is quoted as saying," A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the sombre shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun(Twain 505)." From this quote, it is easy to see that Twain uses many similes and metaphors that truly colors this story and makes it its own. Another characteristic that this story has that reflects the characteristics of realism is human nature. One example of human nature that this story displays is the fact that people can lose sight of things at a certain time of their life(Quinn). This is included in the story when Twain compares what he wishes he would have been thinking when going down the river compared to what the character is actually thinking when going down the river(Twain 505). Society impacted this story by the way that the overall thoughts and ideals changed in the nation when the realism period came around(Quinn). For example, since the people of society were tired of seeing the world distorted in writing, and the shift occurred when people wanted to see the world how it truly was(Quinn). Other than these traits of realist writing, "Two Ways of Seeing A River" really does not contain many other traits of realist writing other than the traits already written about above. For example, there really is not much included in this story about government or religion, making the traits already written about above.

Quinn, Edward. "realism." A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006.Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= Gfflithem0706&SingleRecord=True (accessed February 15, 2011).(Diamond)

Twain, Mark. "Two Views of the River." Glencoe Literature. Comp. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Columbus; McGraw-Hill, 2010. 504-505. Print.


Diamond, Marie Josephine, ed. "naturalism." Encyclopedia of World Writers, 19th and 20th Centuries. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2003. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= GEWW410&SingleRecord=True (accessed February 14, 2011).

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