The Controls Of Literacy/A Look Through Mark Twain's Eyes On Identity.

3702 words - 15 pages

Throughout the works of Mark Twain there appears to be a subtle thread dealing with the concept of identity through race, slavery, gender, clothing, duality, and oppositions. There are also many layers to his storytelling; apparently funny stories reveal themselves to be keen satirical commentary on human foibles. “Twain’s faltering sense of direction” began about slavery, moral decay and deceptive realities (Kaplan 314). The changes in environment, society, education, political influences, family values and morals and other external influences, combined with physical genes, determines how mankind will evolve into adulthood. As he takes control of the “literary machine” (Deleuze & Guattari), he has effectively put himself in the position of the penal officer as he climbs up the ladder and lays his paper in the designer, preparatory to activating the machine. Twain gave his thoughts on humanity throughout his career and it has been said "his early acts of egalitarianism and solidarity with the victims of race hate were unusual enough. In his maturing writing life, however, Mark Twain began to lay bare truths about racial oppression with a particular vigor, using a new and democratic literary language that would forever change American prose" (Titta). Is also possible that his writing changed human perception of historical events?Mark Twain struggled with his own identity. This essay addresses that fact not as a question of authorial intent, but as a possible influence to his work. Mark Twains’ personal concern with his own identity may be explained by the fact that his real name is Samuel Langhorn Clemens. It is true that many writers use pseudonyms, but as Bradford Smith explains in his article, “Mark Twain and the Mystery of Identity,” there is reason to believe that Twain held the idea of his own identity with particular importance: the key to Mark Twain’s mind is the concept of identity. In every one of his important books it is both the identity of the individual on which his attention focuses and on the mystery of identity. The quest for identity is central to both his writing and his personality. Its importance in his works can be traced to its importance in his life. The devices that recur in his stories—disguise, deception, self-deception, and make-believe—all grow out of this concern with identity (425).A logical place to begin an examination of the connections and recurrent themes is with the two stories, Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins. The concept of dualism, dual nature, or dual meanings, as they relate to the formation of identity, was brought to my awareness by reading the afterward included in the Oxford version that contained both Pudd’nhead and Twins. Once my attention was drawn to it, I began to see many examples that could be examined as pertaining to this concept. One of the obvious themes in the novel is twining. First of all, it could be...

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