Instructor: Vicki Moulson
September 29, 2010
Rhetorical Analysis of Mark Twain’s
Two Ways of Seeing a River
In the writing, “Two Ways of Seeing a River,” by Mark Twain, there are many detailed experiences that Twain mentions as a river steamboat pilot. Twain gives the reader an example of what it is really like to explore the great rivers. Twain also gives the reader a view of the negative sides of the river. The text is targeted toward steamboat pilots or someone who would most likely explore a river. Here is where Twain begins to argue that the river is not what it used to be for him as a steamboat pilot. I agree with the work because the author is very convincing and provides adequate information to view the river from two views, and leads you to think twice about exploring the river as steamboat pilots. Twain starts the work off one way, but ends with questions that leave the reader with things to think about. Twain first leads the reader to believe that being a steamboat pilot is all bad because he talks about the river turning to blood, the floating black and conspicuous log, and how the surface has tumbling rings, but then he provides an explanation to what each aspect stands for or means. Twain states that the log represents the river rising, the blood is a sign of wind tomorrow, and the tumbling is a sign of changing channel. So, what is the reader supposed to think? Twain doesn’t answer that question for the reader, but leaves it open for the reader to decide themselves. Twain uses ethos in this work by saying “Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet (Twain, 1883).” This basically states that he has mastered the language of the water and basically knows the features of the river like he knows the alphabet. This shows the reader that Twain has a sufficient amount of experience about the...