Initial Reaction For my assignment I chose to read “The Five Boons ofLife” by Mark Twain. Upon reading this selection, it made me think about theshortsightedness of mankind. We as a society chose to make decisions on theshort term and do not take into account the long term consequences. As aresult, we spend the majority of our time working towards something that wethink is going to enrich our lives only to realize that at the end we will allhave the same outcome. I gave me pause and made me think about my decisions andthe cost of them. Rather than stopping and smelling the proverbial roses, it isalways onto the next task and what I will get out of it. The part thatresonated with me the most were the words of the man towards the end: “Curseall the world’s gifts, for mockeries and gilded lies! And miscalled every one.They are not gifts, but merely lendings.
Pleasure, Love, Fame, Riches: they areall but temporary disguises for lasting realities—Pain, Grief, Shame, Poverty”(Twain, 1902). It is the unfortunate truth and unless one stops to really thinkabout it, or reads this short story, the lesson may not be ever learned.B.1.Historical context of the work Mark Twain penned this short story at the turn of the 20thcentury in 1902.
This was during the Realist period where the authors andartists based their works on realistic depictions of humans and theirbehaviors. This was an interesting time, the Industrial Revolution was takingplace and the players were busily taking care of themselves and their profiles.Greed, Fame, and Pleasure seeking, all had a stronghold on American Society. Inthe story the man always chose something that would give him immediatesatisfaction without thinking about the consequences. Each time he had to makeanother choice, he looked for something to erase the pain from the previousdecision, while ignoring that the inevitable in death. In doing so, when therewas nothing left but death to ease his pain, the fairy had given it away,leaving the man to live with the pain of his decisions.
Mark Twain used Realismin his writing to show that society was flawed and greedy.B.2.Biographical Context Mark Twain, apen name that Samuel Langhorne Clemens took while working for a newspaper inthe early 1860’s, was and is still recognized as one the greatest writers inAmerican history. He wore many hats as a Riverboat pilot, where the pen namederived from, journalist, entrepreneur, and inventor. His ability to explorethe human soul with wit and truthfulness gave rise to his acclaim as a writer.
He had many hardships in his early life and into his adult life, dealt withmany tragedies within his own family. This story may have been a bit more ofreflection of his own life and decisions, rather than just a cautionary talefor the masses. (Twain, 1902)B.
3.Theme or Stylistic Characters The main focusof the story was the man and his decisions, rather than a deeper plot line. Hemay have been trying to reconcile his own life decisions and the pain that hefelt. He wrote from an individualistic point of view, which was one of the characteristicsof the Realist Period.
His mastery with American literature made it easy forhim to portray the faults of man in the short story. B.4Relevance in Current Times In today’s society of instant gratification and keepingup with the next guy, this story is extremely relevant and holds true to thisday. As a whole, we tend to put personal gain and desires over the greatergood.
We act on what we think will make us happy and not what will keep ushappy. We as a society have lost the ability to look beyond the length of ournoses. In the more than a century since his passing, Mark Twain is stillconsidered one of the great American authors. His works are still relevant intheir underlying meanings and serves as examples for modern day authors. C.
Thoughts Initially, reading this story, my thoughts were that of acautionary tale being told by a great author. Something to make you stop andthink about one’s current life. After reading more about his life, I found itto be something of a memoir on his life and his decisions. While it did make mestop and think, and realize that I too may be following the steps of this man,I found it to be more.
Being that this was written less than a decade beforehis death; it appeared to be a way for him to come to peace with his choicesand the pain they caused. D.ReferencesTwain, M. (1902).
“The Five Boons of Life”. RetrievedJanuary 13, 2018 from: http://www.onlineliterature.com/twain/319/ Mark Twain, (2017,April 28).
Retrieved January 13, 2018, from https://www.biography.com/people/mark-twain-9512564