Mark Twain : Mama's Boy

May 8, 2016

Found this amazing write-up on Mark Twain at BrainPickings.org!
Sometimes it takes someone who is good with words to explain something, in order to understand it.

 

Here's an example of why his were legendary........
 

"The river journey filled Jane Clemens with wonder and delight."
Illustration from St. Nicholas, Feb. 1916
Color tinted by Kent Rasmussen © 2004

 

 

Excerpt from Mark Twain on Racism, How Religion Is Used to Justify Injustice, and What His Mother Taught Him About Compassion:

 

"Twain’s account of these complex dynamics is both sweet and heartbreaking in bespeaking the innocent, impressionable ways in which children absorb the beliefs and norms of their culture — as well as the manipulation tactics that the dominant institutions of culture employ in instilling and maintaining those beliefs. A lifelong critic of religion’s capacity to corrupt the human spirit, Twain writes:

 

 

In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it.

No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind — and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing.

 

Even though Twain recalls seeing no abuse of slaves in his hometown of Hannibal in pro-slavery Missouri, he recounts the story of one particular boy and how a simple, pause-giving remark from Twain’s mother — a testament to how such figures quietly but monumentally shape creative geniuses — suddenly opened his eyes to the culturally condoned atrocity of slavery and taught him a lifelong lesson about compassion:

 

There was, however, one small incident of my boyhood days which touched this matter, and it must have meant a good deal to me or it would not have stayed in my memory, clear and sharp, vivid and shadowless, all these slow-drifting years.

 

We had a little slave boy whom we had hired from some one, there in Hannibal. He was from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and had been brought away from his family and his friends, half way across the American continent, and sold. He was a cheery spirit, innocent and gentle, and the noisiest creature that ever was, perhaps. All day long he was singing, whistling, yelling, whooping, laughing — it was maddening, devastating, unendurable. At last, one day, I lost all my temper, and went raging to my mother, and said Sandy had been singing for an hour without a single break, and I couldn’t stand it, and wouldn’t she please shut him up. The tears came into her eyes, and her lip trembled, and she said something like this—

 

 

“Poor thing, when he sings, it shows that he is not remembering, and that comforts me; but when he is still, I am afraid he is thinking, and I cannot bear it.

He will never see his mother again; if he can sing, I must not hinder it, but be thankful for it.

If you were older, you would understand me; then that friendless child’s noise would make you glad.”

 

 

It was a simple speech, and made up of small words, but it went home, and Sandy’s noise was not a trouble to me any more. She never used large words, but she had a natural gift for making small ones do effective work. She lived to reach the neighborhood of ninety years, and was capable with her tongue to the last — especially when a meanness or an injustice roused her spirit."

 

-Maria Popova

 

Photo from: https://travistamerius.wordpress.com/category/mark-twain/

 

He also wrote this about his mother.....

 

“The greatest difference which I find between her and the rest of the people whom I have known, is this, and it is a remarkable one: those others felt a strong interest in a few things, whereas to the very day of her death she felt a strong interest in the whole world and everything and everybody in it. In all her life she never knew such a thing as half-hearted interest in affairs and people, or an interest which drew a line and left out certain affairs and was indifferent to certain people. The invalid who takes a strenuous and indestructible interest in everything and everybody but himself, and to whom a dull moment is an unknown thing and an impossibility, is a formidable adversary for disease and a hard invalid to vanquish, I am certain it was this feature of my mother’s make-up that carried her so far toward ninety.”

 

 

 

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