Authors: Mark Twain and Mississippi River Essay

Submitted By chiefwife68
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Pages: 7

The author Mark Twain’s story “Life on the Mississippi” in 1883 is a story of a boy who lives in a town by the Mississippi river. The boy has an ambition to make something of his life and has a dream to be a steam boat pilot. Mark Twain’s story is very American as in his story he writes of the culture and life of a steamboat traveling along the Mississippi River.

In the story of the “Life on the Mississippi,” Mark Twain’s introduction is as a boy with high ambitions to become established and wealthy during his life. The boy has seen many fathers’ sons growing up to be a master of a trade. Mark Twain wrote “When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steam-boatman” (Twain, 1883/2009 p. 1064). Mark Twain writes how American boys have many dreams to make something grand of their lives. The Mississippi River inspires these young boys of their dreams to become something great and big like the Mississippi River.

Mark Twain describes how great the Mississippi River is. “ The great Mississippi, the majestic, the magnificent Mississippi, rolling its mile-wide tide along, shinning in the sun; the dense forest away on the other side; the “point” above the town, and the “point” below, bounding the river-glimpse and turning it into a sort of sea, and withal a very still brilliant and lonely one” (Twain, 1883/2009 pp. 1064-1065). He describes the town by the Mississippi River and how a steam-boat coming down the river gives excitement to the town. Mark Twain describes how the town goes bare after the steam-boat departs. “After ten more minutes the town is dead again, and the town drunkard asleep by the skids once more” (Twain, 1883/2009 p. 1064). During the time frame of 1800s The Mississippi River helped American life of transportation through steam boats and benefiting river cities (Bauer, pp. 158-160, 1910).

Mark Twain describes the American life of father’s and their sons growing up to be employed on a steam-boat. “Boy after boy managed to get on the river” (Twain, 1883/2009 p. 1064). The minister’s son became and engineer. The doctor’s and postmaster’s sons became mud clerks. The wholesale liquor dealer’s son became a barkeeper on a boat. The four sons of a chief merchant and two sons of the county judge had become pilots. The pilot position on a steam-boat is recognized as the most admirable job to the boy. “The comforting day-dreams of a future when I should be a great and honored pilot, with plenty of money, and could kill some of these mates and clerks and pay for them” (Twain, 1883/2009, p. 1066). Americans in that time frame had ambitious dreams to make a lot of money, and a reputable status.

Life on the Mississippi

Mark Twain read about an exploration of the Amazon that had still not completed the exploration planned. He was living in Cincinnati at this time and decided that he would board the ship and help complete the exploration of the Amazon. He boarded the ship and felt that he had become a world traveler while on his quest to become a pilot and that felt wonderful to him. He waited for several days to have an assignment that he could complete for a mate of the boat. He never gave up getting to know everyone on the boat and eventually Horace Bixby, a famous pilot, took the boy under his wing. It was after three days of hard work and persistence, Bixby agreed to teach the boy everything about how to steer the boat, and everything about the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St Louis. The boy was to pay Bixby five hundred dollars once he graduated, and from his first paycheck.

First Watch

Bixby instructed the boy to steer the boat out of the harbor and past the other boats that were docked. The boy was extremely nervous as he was very close to hitting many of the boats so Bixby scolded him and took the wheel. The boy began to have immense respect