Jun 25, 2018 in Research

Close Reading

Mark Twain born in 1835 and died in 1910 was seen by many as the father of American literature with his many publications. The “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It” was one of his best which was published in The Atlantic Monthly in the November issue in the year 1874. This story was about sorrow, heartbreak, and experiences of the life during the Civil War period. His experience in writing made him come up with this master piece that expressed realism at its best. It gives an account of the occurrence of this period and though it may be an imagination it clearly depicts and paints the picture in to the readers mind hence giving him/her the reality of this period.

The story talks about a sixty year old servant “Aunt Rachel” who is ever cheerful, hearty soul, strong, and well built and a Misto C, who unintentionally angers Aunt Rachel by asking the question “Aunt Rachel, how is it that you've lived sixty years and never had any trouble?” this questions awakens memories in Aunt Rachel about her family all sold to slavery, this makes her lament the incident but she has to face the reality of life (Paine, p.181). After the war Aunt Rachel works as cook and serves a group of union army officers in North Carolina, and this is where she re-unites with her son by seeing a familiar face of one of the soldiers.

She is so happy that she begins to praise the Lord, she says "Lord God ob heaven" and thus she gets to answer her ironic question that the story is based on  “Oh, no, Misto C----, I hain't had no trouble. An' no joy” (Twain, p.29) Living in a world where fate is all it takes to survive but people find solace in religion as a means to an end can best suit this tale. This paper expresses the theme of realism considering consider regionalism and naturalism as expressed by Mark Twain (Paine, p.181).

The context happens at summer where Aunt Rachel a servant at Misto C house is asked a question that makes her reflect on the past and the present in context to life and reality. Twain describes a realistic situation where the character’s desires are linked to what s/he thinks about “reality”. Aunt Rachel desires a perfect family that is full of love and that encompasses a husband and children as she had earlier before slavery, but this has all been wiped out by reality that has seen them subjected to slavery due to them being black. She vividly recalls how her children were captured and chained at an auction and sold as slaves as she watched. She gets to hug her child Henry as he is being auctioned and they both desire to be together where she promises to work to buy his freedom.

As she continues with her story she wishes to see her Henry and desires for him to have run away from slavery so that she can see him. She also desires to be treated with dignity and respect as she says what her mother taught her and repeats it “'I want you niggers to understand' dat I wasn't bawn in de mash to be fool' by trash! I's one o' de ole Blue Hen's Chickens, I is!' an' den she clar' dat kitchen an' bandage' up de chile herse'f. So I says dat word, too, when I's riled.” (Twain, p.6). The world rather treats her as a slave and a fool just to be a servant that works in low jobs.

Reality has treated differently from their expectations and they only hope on the Lord to save them from their predicament. Aunt Rachel keeps on asking the Lord to have her dreams come true especially that of seeing her son. The desires of her heart have all been washed away by reality and she has to rely on religion to get hope to live.

The characters imagine reality as a hindrance to their desires where reality robs them off the right too achieve their dreams and have a fulfilling life. This is so because all whatever they desire have been wiped out by reality and they are left to experience a different bitter side that is so hard to cope with. They have to accept the reality of being slaves a situation which is not desirable to anyone. As Aunt Rachel describes in her account “"Dey put chains on us an' put us on a stan' as high as dis po'ch, -- twenty foot high, -- an' all de people stood aroun', crowds an' crowds. An' dey 'd come up dah an' look at us all roun', an' squeeze our arm, an' make us git up an' walk, an' den say, 'Dis one too ole,' or 'Dis one lame,' or 'Dis one don't 'mount to much.' An' dey sole my ole man, an' took him away, an' dey begin to sell my chil'en an' take dem away, an' I begin to cry;” (Twain, p.10) this makes her weep since reality is treating her unfairly and inhumanely.

Before the family is auctioned they are tortured due their resistance where they are arm twisted and forced to move in chains. She laments over her being bought by man and made a cook in his house. Unfortunately this is the reality of life they have to face before they meet each other again. The family is made to stay apart for many years without contact wit each other a situation that makes Aunt Rachel think that they are all dead. She gets separated from Henry for thirteen years which is quite long for mother and son.

She clearly states that the thirteen years have not been short and her son must have already grown up to be a great man if at all he is alive. Although she has never thought of her son alive since the last time they say each other was when he was a small boy (Twain, p.16) It was a hell on earth to go through such an experience.

Twain, (p.18) in this article clearly describes the situation of fate that describes the plight of the African American woman during the civil war and the ill treatment she was exposed to. The author paints reality as a difficult part of life to cope with since he portrays the ugly side of life but gives a remedy of the problems to have faith and hope. This concept gives regionalism and naturalism a chance in the life of individual who is encouraged to keep on hoping for a better life. This however does not deter Aunt Rachel the quest to live as she live cheerful and colored in her life and duties. In a quest to find a new life one may forget the past and continue focusing on the future but the past still haunts back. This can be seen when the question is posed to Aunt Rachel where she suddenly changes and begins to open up her suffering that has caused her so much pain and grieve all of her life. Aunt Rachel seems to have been suffering which is part of life’s reality and is inevitable. Her suffering in silence brings out the concept of naturalism in that people may naturally opt to ignore the suffering of life and continue on but the bottom line is that we are all natural and wounds will be unveiled in future once questions are asked.

Aunt Rachel’s experience acts as an example where she goes through unbearable pain of loosing all she got and the most valuable thing in her life “her family” and also looses her freedom by being a slave but later regains them. The author does not portray life as a perfect system but a road full of so many bumps that need to be overcome through hope.

Life never becomes perfect in view of the fact that Twain does not describe the reunion of the mother and son in a perfect condition but rather in a situation where they are both free but the conditions are still harsh. They both meet when Henry is a soldier and herself as a cook for the army. Here one can say that fate has brought them together to celebrate and take life as a blessing as they thank God for their reunion; this makes Aunt Rachel confused as she confesses that "Oh, no, Misto C--, I hadn't had no trouble. An' no joy!" (Twain, p.29) which means she doesn’t know whether she is troubles or just has no joy.

Related essays