Two Views of the Mississippi by Mark Twain

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Jerry Bradshaw
Assignment #1
ENG 112

Two Views of the Mississippi

One may argue that certain learned abilities become instinctual over time and through repeated practice. I do not believe there could be any solid proof for this theory. Instinct can be defined as something that we do without even thinking about it, yet when we are in a panicked state, we usually tend to forget some of those learned habits and react in a way that truly is pure instinct, having nothing to do with anything we had previously learned.

Mark Twain writes of ceasing to note the beauty of the river while steamboating, implying that once you have learned certain practices, they become almost innate qualities. That is not to say that they become instinct, only that one has mastered this ability. When any individual begins a journey of learning a new trade, ability or experiencing a new discovery – initial rapture almost always ensues.

Twain uses figurative language to effectively describe his sense of rapture and awe of the river when he is beginning his journey on the road to knowledge of steamboating. Twain gives the river human characteristics and even its own ‘language’. Describing the river as having “turned to blood” or a log that was “solitary…black and conspicuous” breathed life into his view of the Mississippi.

Twain’s use of figurative language places the reader inside his mind during this exciting experience he once had. The wonder and pure awe of this beautiful scene are painted beautifully with his use of simile, “boiling rings that were as many-tinted as an opal” and other variations of personification of the river. In his writing about the river, he has the trees waving, the river dancing and the surroundings of the water glowing, shining “like silver” and radiating warm colors and beauty.

When anyone takes on a new learning experience, many times details that are initially noticed or celebrated become old hat, so to speak. My first bread machine...
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