The Invalid's Story Essay

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Although Baldanza claims that in "The Invalid's Story" Mark Twain "rises to the heights of comic invention," scholars generally condemn the story. Bellamy recoils from the "repulsive humor," arguing that by giving undue attention to the stench of corpses Mark Twain emphasizes "the indignity of human life." Emerson flatly labels it a "disaster," its humor "unspeakable." Most other Mark Twain scholars simply ignore the story that Howells thought would "challenge all literature for its like."

Yet Mark Twain carefully structures the story to minimize the offense to his readers' sensibilities and to maximize comic effect. The dying narrator informs us at the outset that his fate is the result of a "prodigious mistake": planning to accompany the remains of his "dearest boyhood friend and schoolmate, John B. Hackett" by train from Cleveland, Ohio, to "his poor old father and mother in Wisconsin," the narrator in fact sits in...

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This section contains 894 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Invalid's Story Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Invalid's Story from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.