Julie Jentzen                                                                April 17, 2001

Intermediate Composition                                                Professor Cruz

Mark Twain

Literary intention, refers to the plan or design of an author in setting pen to paper.  The evidence of such anticipation varies considerably from one writer to another.  Mark Twain's work is notoriously provisional, fragmentary, and prone to drastic contradictions.  His scattered observations on the writer's craft tend to strongly confirm our impression that he usually set to work with a few characters and episodes in mind, but with no clear, fully developed formal or thematic schemes.  Therefore we are compelled to concede that much of the apparent design in his writing is probably unconscious in origin.

American literature would not be the same if not for Twain’s ideas for ways of writing in a manner that spectacularly conveys the feelings of touch, sound, and sight by the use of single-minded words.  Another way that Mark Twain enriches the heritage of American literature is by his style of writing in the vernacular, which means to write the way that people think and speak.  The vernacular portrays the word in the purest sense of its original meaning.  The vernacular symbolizes American writing because nobody else on earth would talk in that way besides the early American settlers.  Twain’s use of single-minded words captures the reader’s attention, making them feel almost as if they are in the book themselves.  

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Twain’s masterful use of the vernacular portrays the speech of early rural America.  His use of the vernacular lets the reader read more smoothly since they do not have to pay attention to the structural significance of the word.  Throughout his story Old Times on the Mississippi, there are countless examples of Twain’s use of vernacular.  Here are a few examples: “Look-a-here!  What do you suppose I told you the names of those points for?” (p. 341), “Whar ‘n the---you goin’ to!  Cain’t you see nothin’ you dash-dashed aig-suckin’, sheep-stealin’, one-eyed son of a stuffed monkey!” (p. 365).  This shows the rural, ...

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