The War Prayer Analysis

Good Essays
“The War Prayer” Analysis “The War Prayer” by Samuel L. Clemens, is his attempt to force the public to realize the implicit outcome of praying for victory in war, which inevitably is death. His use of irony and hyperbole is evident in this clever narrative. The passage satirically describes how a very religious town comes together during a time of war to pray for the downfall of the enemy and the triumph of their men. An old man then comes into the church and prays the same exact prayer that the townspeople are praying without concealing the truth. Clemens uses the old man to identify his purpose of the narrative, ignorance to war.
In the opening paragraph, Clemens describes our country in the mist of war and the patriotism was flowing like a never ending waterfall. As the men marched down the street there were “cyclones of applause” from the audience. Drums were beating, the firecrackers were going off, family members were cheering and “tears of joy were streaming down the cheeks of the soldiers.” Clemens concludes the paragraph with the statement that the people who disapproved and spoke out against the war were pretty much forced into silence.
The next portion of the narrative is the priest’s prayer for the war. The entire town crowded into the church with eager faces, the young soldiers were still blinded by their heroic dreams that they had the night before, and the patriotism displayed previously seemed only to grow with every minute. The priest taught about the war chapters of the Bible which was quickly followed by the organ whose glowing eyes produced such an invocation that the building shook and an extremely long prayer for victory. By exaggerating the thoughts and actions of the townspeople, Clemens forces the readers to gather their own opinions and emotions of the situation without being coaxed.
In the last section of Clemens piece a stranger appears. The stranger is old, dressed in odd clothes, and is obviously not from the town. Clemens uses

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    The War Prayer

    • 649 Words
    • 3 Pages

    In the passage The War Prayer by Mark Twain he tells a satirical story in which a mysterious man comes before a crowd of ignorant mass. Through this story and his setting he satirizes human logic when it comes to war and our tendency to not think our decisions through ; especially patriotic thoughts of war and glory. Twain satirically writes of the unseen and unthought-of horrors with a mock diction, excessive hyperbole and vivid imagery. At first glance it seems Twain seeks to write of glory and honor as he describes the ideal patriotic scene with “Drums Beating” “Toy Pistols Popping” and describing how “the war in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism”. But there is something amiss, something much darker he seeks to slowly uncover as Twain says “Firecrackers hissing and spluttering” symbolizing a dangerous animal hissing in alarm then as he moves on to say “Wilderness of flags in the sun” he hints how animalistic and dangerous the idea of patriotism could become because it could not be tamed. Twain describes the cheering as “cyclones” of applause which is ironic because cyclones have to do with destruction, death and usually disasters. Because “Cyclones” of applause are usually given after patriotic speeches this symbolizes how death, destruction and despair normally follow through even though in a patriotic speech, even though it is never mentioned; this also serves to effectively mock patriotic scenes. As Twain moves through the story a mysterious man from god appears and begins a set of appeals that are filled with hyperbole and also somewhat logical forcing the reader to think twice about unsaid prayers. He claims “God has asked him” to tell the people of their unheard prayers. Twain advances his logic to his audience by having the man say that there are two sides to every story and there is a dark side to their light prayers. Anyone can go up and disguise the morbid atmosphere and death-filled gory scenes of war with patriotic flags and…

    • 649 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Mark Twain wrote The War Prayer in response to the opposition to the Philippine-American War. Twain was a staunch anti-war and anti-imperialist supporter. To take a stance as such at this time in history was considered unpatriotic and in view of most Americans an act of treason. Not many Americans tolerated unpatriotic views during this time. Twain communicates that patriotism and religion are no justifications for war. Twain also felt contempt for people who blindly supported patriotism and war, without knowing the effects of war. Twain contended that those who supported the war only heard one prayer, the other was unheard. Basically praying for victory is praying for the destruction of another. Twain also felt that imperialism was…

    • 155 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    Mark Twain is noted by many as an influential writer in American Literature. Twain produced many great novels throughout his life. Some of his novels contained humor while others were implying a different set of thinking. Further pieces from Twain incorporated the current era of time or shared his viewpoints on certain moral aspects such as racism, religion, and war. War is noted all throughout American History with several authors composing their positions on the issue. One piece from Twain that discusses war is “The War Prayer.” In the poem, Twain uses a unique strategy in sharing his viewpoints on war and religion. This approach should be examined to gain a full understanding of how Twain’s piece relates to social, cultural, and intellectual…

    • 914 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    After the characters in the book and poem come face to face with the war, they realize war is…

    • 734 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The point made by Mark Twain’s “The War-Prayer” (1905) is simple, even simplistic: that the unspoken part of the desire for victory over the enemy is the desire that misery and death befall others. The irony, as noted by the stranger who comments on this silent prayer, is that it is directed supposedly “in the spirit of love” to “Him who is the Source of Love” (398). In fact, Twain’s piece makes this irony unmissable, as it ends with the failure of the congregation even to understand the stranger’s point, let alone to take it to heart: “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said” (398).…

    • 1369 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “Little souls who thirst for fight, these men were born to drill and die” (Crane 7-8). Stephen Crane’s poem acknowledges the fact that many soldiers in the war have fought for survival, dehumanized, and lost lives for their country. Many propose the idea that war is not necessary and that it is pointless. This is quite ironic since a great amount of people go to war even though they think that it is unnecessary. Generally, these battles can be prevented after all most people would say that war is a tragic thing and that it shouldn’t play such a big role in life. Author of an international bestselling novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque also portrays a similar purpose in his novel as Stephen Crane’s poem “War is Kind”. Remarque and Crane both want to convey a message of harmony by distinctly delineating the destructiveness, dehumanization, and the ridiculousness of war.…

    • 822 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    War, what is it good for. What seems to be just a catchy song from the late 60’s, actually has an accurate depiction of the gruesome wars this world has gone through. In All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, WWI soldiers learn the cold hard facts about how nothing good comes out of wars. Not everyone is born a fighter, some are peer pressured into volunteering not knowing the treacherous path ahead of them. Throughout the book Remarque uses symbolism to express the gruesome effects on soldiers.…

    • 654 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Contrary to popular beliefs which state that war glorifies patriotism and machoism; Wilfred Owen's 'The War Poems' strips back all that is perceived as good and warns readers of the dark underbelly of war. By targeting all the senses of the readers, Owen is able to reveal the main message that lies beneath all the words of his poetry: war is futile. By examining the warnings and messages Owen tries to convey, not only do the detrimental effects of war on a soldier's mentality become stark; readers are also allowed to immerse themselves into a world filled with war propaganda. In constructing his poetry in such a way, the warnings of the horrors of war act as a deterrent to all of those who still believe the Old Lie: 'Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori'.…

    • 756 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The author uses ironic diction to present war as a calamitous machine that of which yields to no one. The first words that arise from the work to the reader is “Do not weep” (Crane 1st stanza), yet it does not comfort the audience. The title emphasizes that the poem is sarcastic and this makes the reader feel doubtful towards the greeting presented to them. In addition,…

    • 416 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    I think the French Wars of Religion was more about religious differences because ever since the French nobles became Calvinists, they would show independence from the central power. It created the conflict between Catholics and Calvinists where power was the main struggle making religion become a way bigger issue. The last of the wars would be the war of the Three Henry’s where it showed the overall religious differences between the Catholics and the Protestants. Which this was between Henry III and Henry of Guise versus Henry IV.…

    • 1098 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Red Badge of Courage

    • 299 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Figurative language also has a part in this passage. "These parts of the opposing armies were two long waves that pitched upon each other madly at dictated points. To and fro they swelled." Crane is comparing the masses of soldiers to ocean waves, wild and uncontrolled. This evokes powerful mental images, and helps the reader to understand just how unstructured that the situation was. At the end of the passage, the pace picks up to show the confusion of the situation. This helps to convey the tone, which is rough and forceful.…

    • 299 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the story “Field Trip”, the text shows an example of how some people in a community can expect a man to go to war and how it affects…

    • 851 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    War is a battle of not only the physical but also the psychological. In the text, All quiet on the western front, by Enrich Maria Remarque, and the poem Homecoming, by Bruce Dawe, our understanding is challenged through various representations of war such as innocence, srvivl and grief.…

    • 1195 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Patrick Henery

    • 427 Words
    • 2 Pages

    When Henry says “listen to that song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts”. He is using a mythical allusion. He metaphorically comparing how the British are saying things to the colonist which are promising false hopes. This creates an emotional argument. Also when Henry said “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.” Henry he is metaphorically calling experience a lamp. He says that experience will “light” the way for the future. There is a Biblical allusion here to the scripture which says the God’s word is a “lamp unto thy feet and a light unto thy path.” This is an appeal to emotion because it is involving God and religion. Henry also uses a lot of rhetorical questions that are followed up by a declarative sentence answering the question. He uses this rhetorical device to emphasize the military producers which the British are taking. This also creates an appeal to emotion because, it causes fear in the colonists. When Henry says, “They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other.” He uses a balanced sentence with parallel independent clauses which repeat the same point. This again, emphasizes the military producers.…

    • 427 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Bibliography: Aamodt, Terrie D. Righteous Armies, Holy Causes: Apocalyptic Imagery and the Civil War. Macon,…

    • 8017 Words
    • 33 Pages
    Good Essays