Friday, September 30, 2011

"The War Prayer"

Twain starts off telling us about how everyone in the town is cheering on the new volunteers of the war, He tells us about how the volunteers families and friends are waving goodbye to them as if they were excited about them leaving, but I feel as if Twain automatically expected his audience to understand the sadness of the families as well. Twain talks about how people gather at the Church that following Sunday including men who want to enter into the war. He also mentioned how the "bronzed heroes" were returning and everybody was excited to see them. Twain also mentions how there were people at the Church who were envious of the volunteers because they did not have any sons or husbands to send off to the war.

The preacher then starts the "long prayer" and begins it out with asking the Lord to watch over the soldiers who are participating the war. The preacher also talks about how he wants the soldiers of his town to beat their opponent and win the war successfully. Twain then tells us about a strange looking man that appears at the Church and how he is dressed compared to everyone else. The man just walks in hoping no one would notice and stands beside the preacher as he is praying. He touches the preacher and hopes for a chance to speak. When the stranger speaks he talks about how he is there to speak the words that were running through the audiences minds as the preacher was praying, the "unspoken" prayer. He then re-prays to the audience and adds in the words that he thinks the people were thinking. He talks about what would happen to their foe if they won the battle as the preacher had mentioned earlier. The stranger described the situations of the losers of the war for example, "help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst..." The stranger is trying to make the audience feel guilty for praying this prayer and wanting them to win the war.


  1. How do you think that this can be applied today?

    I'm not so sure Twain infers that the reader should know that the people in the story are sad because I think that he is really trying to show how proud the families are. I think he's trying to make a point that these people are supporting the war and the lives being taken in the process.

  2. Is there anything else that the stranger might be doing besides "trying to make the audience feel guilty"? What are your thoughts on this piece, besides your summary?

  3. Mary Kate, I guess it can be applied today because with the people who are fighting in other countries, everyone is so worried about the condition of their loved ones and not really whats happening to the opponent. But you don't really hear of anyone saying to "defeat the opponent" now. Everyone is more so concerned with their loved one coming back home and the war ending.

    Twain doesn't really come out and say that the families are sad necessarily but you have to know they were sad a little bit because not all families would have their loved one return home.

    Mrs. Freeman,
    I think the stranger was also expressing his opinion as well. He might have been stating the obvious but he could have been trying to express what he thought to the audience as well. Or the stranger could have had someone who died in the war and wanted the soldiers to know the consequences of their actions and how it felt to have some not with them as well, by saying it in the opponents opinion.

    I think this piece was a really good thing to think about. No one really thinks about how the opponent is going to feel if they loose the war or loose a loved one as well. I've never really been put into these situations because no one in my family or anyone I'm close to is in the military so I didn't connect to the feeling part of the prayer. But I do feel bad for the families that had to watch their loved ones leave or deal with the thought of them maybe not returning.