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Life on the Mississippi

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kaitlyn shallow

on 2 April 2015

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Transcript of Life on the Mississippi

Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi
, Mark Twain describes what it was like to be an apprentice pilot on the
Paul Jones
. He was being trained by Horace Bixby, who stressed the necessity of knowing the river better than he knew his own house.
A steamboat on the Mississippi.
Main Characters
Mark Twain:
He was the apprentice pilot being trained to navigate the river between New Orleans and St.Louis by Horace Bixby. (Protagonist)
Horace Bixby:
He was the locally famous pilot of the
Paul Jones
. Bixby also tried to stress to Twain that he needed to learn the river as well as his own house, or maybe even better.
The River:
Though not exactly a character, the river is constantly working against Mark Twain, as he finds it difficult to memorize its every twist and turn. (Antagonist)
Twain begins to think he isn't good enough to become a pilot, and he also doesn't believe that he will be able to completely learn the river.
The river is constantly changing and poses a challenge to Twain who is trying to memorize its every detail.
Literary Devices
Ashley, CJ, and Kaitlyn
In mastering a profession, a person may start to see the aspects they originally appreciated as mere details of their job.

(Example: By the end of his time as an apprentice pilot, Mark Twain no longer appreciates the river in the way that he did when he first started his time as an apprentice.)
Point of View
First Person
The climax of
Life on the Mississippi
occurs when Mark Twain is left to pilot the boat alone. Twain feels confident about sailing alone until he gets to a part of the river he doesn't know as well. He thinks that there is a bluff reef ahead and believes that he will soon run into it. In desperation, he starts to ring the bell for help. The tension begins to lessen when Mr. Bixby tells him that it is just a wind reef that actually poses no threat.
Mark Twain

Overall Opinion
We believe that this story's plot was very repetitive and not all that interesting. There were some highlights in the story, such as the comic comparisons, but overall we would not recommend it.
“Have I got to learn the shape of the river according to all these five hundred thousand different ways?” (Twain 657)
“Do you mean to say that I’ve got to know all the million trifling variations of shape in the banks of this interminable river as well as I know the shape of the front hall at home?” (Twain 656)

Comic Comparisons
“He might as well have asked me my grandmother’s opinion of protoplasm.” (Twain 655)
“My gunpowdery chief went off with a bang, of course, and then went on loading and firing until he was out of adjectives.” (Twain 655)
“Well, taking you by-and-large, you do seem to be more different kinds of an ass than any creature I ever saw before.” (Twain 658)
“... I know I’ve got to scratch to starboard in a hurry, or I’ll bang this boat’s brains out against a rock...” (Twain 659)

Extended Metaphor
“Now I had often seen pilots gazing at the water and pretending to read it as if it were a book; but it was a book that told me nothing.” (Twain 660)
“In truth, the passenger who could not read this book saw nothing but all manner of pretty pictures in it painted by the sun and shaded by the clouds, whereas to the trained eye these were not pictures at all, but the grimmest and most dead-earnest of reading matter.” (Twain 663-664)

mike wilzoski
Journal Entry
1.) Horace Bixby stresses to Mark Twain the importance of memorizing every detail of the river.
2.) Twain begins to doubt his ability to become a pilot, saying he is only smart enough to be a deckhand.
3.) Twain is given the opportunity to pilot the boat alone, and is confident until he comes upon what he believes is a bluff reef. Mr. Bixby proves to him that it simply a harmless wind reef.
4.) Twain realizes, after mastering his profession, that he no longer appreciates the river as much as he used to.
How it Relates
“.... a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice.” (Twain 663)
"When she (the boat) fights strong and the tiller slips a little, in a jerky, greasy sort of way, let up on her a trifle; it is the way she tells you at night that the water is too shoal." (Twain 661)

The vernacular used in
Life on the Mississippi
shows the culture of the region. Mr. Bixby uses jargon often when teaching Twain how to sail the steamboat.

This story could also be classified as realism, because it accurately portrays events that actually happened. There is no fiction or glorification found in
Life in the Mississippi;
it is simply Twain's retelling of his time as an apprentice.
In your opinion, was Mr.Bixby's assertion that Twain must learn the river better than he knows his own house reasonable, or was this an unrealistic expectation?
Full transcript