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Analysis of The Invalid's Story

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Lakeisha Crum

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of Analysis of The Invalid's Story

By: Lakeisha Crum, Josh Blackburn, and Daniel Bowser The Invalid's Story The Invalid's Story is a short story by Mark Twain that tells the experience of a forty year old man and his failed attempt to transport his friend's dead body back to his mother and father. While transporting the body the narrator mistakes the box containing his friend's body for a box of guns and rotten cheese. While on the train the narrator meets the express man, Thompson. Shortly after catching onto the smell, the two begin many attempts to eliminate it. The attempts are made in vain and the severity of their problems are heightened as they both contract typhoid fever. The Narrator: Even though he doesn't have a name you learn that the narrator is a 41 year old man. His friend, John B. Hackett, has had the difficult death wish of being brought back to his parents to be buried so he takes the task full on and takes the next train to Bethlehem, Wisconsin. Upon boarding the train, the narrator mistakes the box with his friend's corpse in it for a box of guns with a package of Limburger cheese on it. He mistakes the smell of the ripened Limburger cheese for the smell of the dead corpse and tells Thompson that John had been dead for two or three days instead of one to explain the smell. The narrator and Thompson then make many attempts to stifle the awful smell with many different chemicals and objects, but the smell remains.

Thompson: Thompson is a fifty year old, who also mistakes the box of guns and cheese for a rotten corpse. He is the express man who, at the beginning of the story, sings while he works on the express car. His cheerful mood soon diminishes when he beings to smell the cheese. He tries to make light of the situation and tell the narrator of his experiences with transporting dead bodies. Even though it isn't stated, you can infer that Thompson is also diagnosed with typhoid fever.

John B. Hackett: John is the narrator's dead friend who had the problematic death wish to be transported back to his parents for burial. Characters The first conflict mentioned in the story is the narrators emotional distress of loosing his friend. Even though he describes that he has to forget it and fulfill his friend's death wish, you can tell that it bothers him. This conflict is internal because, it is within him.
The second conflict stated in the story is an obvious conflict that is easily shown. This is the terrible smell of the rotting cheese. This awful conflict is external.
The third conflict told in the story is the narrator and Thompson's attempts to eliminate the smell of the cheese. These attempts are conflicts because, even though the smell is the main conflict, the chemicals and objects made matters worse and caused some problems themselves. These attempts are examples of external conflict.
The fourth example of conflict in the story is the narrator's fear of Thompson finding the smell. This is internal because, it is his own personal fear.
The fifth and final conflict in the story is the narrator and Thompson's battles with typhoid fever. This is an example of internal and external conflict. It is internal because of the emotional problems it causes within the narrator, and even though it doesn't broadly state it, you can infer that Thompson also has these problems too. It is external because it causes physical problems for them both. Conflicts
The theme of the story is that imagination can cause you to believe questionable things and create life changing problems. The narrator believes that the box of guns and package of cheese is actually his friend's dead body, and in the end he learns that his imagination has fooled him and has changed his life forever. The narrator is diagnosed with typhoid fever and becomes very ill and weak. At this point, he realizes that his imagination has changed his life forever.
The setting is in a express car on a train with a destination in Bethlehem, Wisconsin. The mood is very depressing and urgent considering the concept of the story is death and the smell is an urgent problem. Setting Summary Indirect Characterization is actions or words the character do that reveal something about their personality or traits. There are some examples of indirect characterization in The Invalid's Story. Here are just a few.
When Thompson notices the awful smell he tries to make light of the conversation by telling the narrator of the many experiences he had with transporting dead bodies. This shows that Thompson is a positive person and likes to make the best of every situation. Also, at the beginning of the story Thompson whistles while he works. This again shows that he likes to make the best of every situation because, even though he has to work, he tries to make it fun and less boring.
Another example of indirect characterization in the story is when the narrator goes through the trouble to transport his friend's body back to his parents for burial. This shows that the narrator is very dedicated and loyal to his friends. Examples of Indirect Characterization In this story, the most obvious symbolic item is the rotting Limburger cheese. This cheese represents the rotting corpse that was supposed to be in the box. The cheese leads the narrator to imagine that he still has a dead body nestled inside of what is really a box of guns. Symbolism Exposition: When the narrator is informed that his friend has died and his death wish is to be transported back home.
Inciting Moment: When the narrator's friend dies and the narrator is informed of his death wish.
Complications: The smell of the rotting cheese.
Climax: When Thompson notices the smell of the "corpse" and talks to the narrator about it.
Falling Action: When the narrator and Thompson make many attempts to stifle the awful fragrance.
Denouement: When the narrator tells us what happened that night and from there on. He explains his battle with typhoid fever and explains the mistake he had made with the boxes. The Plot Characters in a story are organized and classified by many different factors. Characters can be dynamic, static, round, flat, a foil, symbolic, a protagonist, or an antagonist. Characters in a story can have just one, or more classification depending on their personality or traits.

The narrator is the protagonist of the story. He is also dynamic and round because, he changes throughout the story. He goes from being a vibrant middle aged man to a depressed, "shadow" of a man.
Thompson is a dynamic character. He goes from a very cheerful man, at the beginning, to a depressed, ill man at the end of the story just like the narrator.
John B. Hackett is the antagonist in the story. He is also flat and static. He is the antagonist because he is the conflict in the story even though it is not technically him, the narrator believes he is. Characters Continued The narrator's friend, John B. Hackett, had a harsh death wish to be transported back to his parents in Bethlehem, Wisconsin.
The narrator mistakes the box of guns for the corpse of his friend.
The smell that the narrator and Thompson are experiencing is actually a package of rotting Limburger cheese.
Thompson explains that he has dealt with dead bodies before and gives the narrator statements to lift his mood.
At the end of the story, the narrator and Thompson are diagnosed with typhoid fever. Important Details From the Story
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