Have you heard of Mark Twain? Love reading the Tom Sawyer? Are you wondering what the top moments in Mark Twain’s novels are?
I am sure you would have read some of his books. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, popularly known by his pen name Mark Twain is one of the biggest legends in English Literature. Known as the father of American Literature, he is a beloved writer whose books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Adventures of Tom Sawyer are famous worldwide and a customary read, especially in American schools. He is known famously for his humorous satires and his voicing of social and political issues in a light-hearted manner.
Starting as a journalist, Samuel has taken up roles as a lecturer over his writing years. He is also well known for his travel narratives, such as the “Life on the Mississippi” and “Roughing it” which are based on his travels. Even after his death, there were a few of his works that were published to great acclaim.
Known for his humor, Twain has a way of making his classics relatable with a great sense of empathy. There are a lot of moments from his books that are beloved by many. The best instances from his stories are:
1. “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, considered to be “the Great American Novel” deals with the themes of race and identity. Set during the American Civil War, people of dark skin were considered slaves and were sold as though they weren’t human. Helping a “nigger” as they often called them during those times was considered a sin, and as a consequence, you get imprisoned. Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Huck Finn, deals with the moral dilemma of what is right.
Despite knowing the rules, he is agitated by the fact that Jim, his good friend, is an outcast by law. When Jim gets sold and imprisoned, Huck finally decides that saving his friend is more important to him than the rules preached, and with that decision, he said the above lines, pinning the most crucial turning point in a story during the civil war times.
2.”Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
This dialogue is from the earlier scenes from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom is punished, As a punishment, he has to whitewash the fence on a Saturday, the day he had set aside to play and be merry. As he was painting sadly, Tom was worried about how the other boys would make fun of him to be having to work on a Saturday when the rest of them would be playing.
Upon that thought, Tom meets a boy named Ben who teases him, and to his reply, Tom says the above dialogue as a way to showing Ben that there to whitewash a fence was a rarity and that not many people get to do it. He portrayed whitewashing as a task very hard to attain, and in doing so, he got the attention of Ben, who also wants to whitewash.
Tom successfully dupes Ben into whitewashing the fence while Tom takes Ben’s apple and enjoys his day. This scene is one of the most classic scenes in Mark Twain’s novel as he perfectly humors the audience with his witty story-telling.
3.”Here in Milan, in an ancient tumble-down ruin of a church, is the mournful wreck of the most celebrated painting in the world—”The Last Supper,” by Leonardo da Vinci.”
Innocents abroad are the best-selling travel book written by Mark Twain. It’s a biography of what he calls the “Great pleasure excursion” aboard the chartered vessel Quaker City through Europe and the Holy Land with a group of American travelers. When in Italy, they visit the “most celebrated” painting in the world – The Last Supper.
This was a very defining moment during the Mark Twain period because everyone in the world admired and longed to see the famous masterpiece by Leonardo DaVinci, This painting has been iconic in its setting of the last supper. It henceforth has made everyone imagine it the way he envisioned. The reason this scene is one of the most defining ones, and everyone considers DaVinci’s work the best.
Twain remarks that he finds the copies being done by the other artists in the church as more beautiful than the original, which must have been very good at the time it was painted. But as years passed by, the painting is very worn out and is not the best. Saying this, he suggests that it doesn’t deserve to be the most celebrated painting in the world.
4.” He is strong and handsome, and I love him for that, and I admire him and am proud of him, but I could love him without those qualities. If he were plain, I should love him; if he were a wreck, I should love him; and I would work for him and slave over him and pray for him and watch by his bedside until I died.”
The novel Eve’s diary was written in 1906, two years after Twain’s wife, Olivia’s death. The book narrates the chronicle of Eve from the famous Biblical story of Adam and Eve. In his narration, he looks through the perspective of Eve, as she navigates through the Garden of Eden and her experiences with Adam.
In this book, Adam and Eve are portrayed as people with opposite personalities and many a time; we can see that Adam ignores Eve because of her childish behavior. This, in turn, upsets Eve. As the story unfolds, the book takes up a very melancholic turn, and towards the end, Eve describes her feelings towards Adam. This moment is iconic by the fact that it is partially biographical and that Twain wrote about what his wife felt for him. This was his last book, and it was written as a love letter to his wife.
5.”Now, I know you’ll tell me,” said the lady. “The names of the first two disciples were—”
“David and Goliath!”
Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.
Tom Sawyer was a very naughty lad. While he is usually tricking someone else, this scene narrates one moment when he gets caught for cheating the Sunday school. Tom dislikes going to the Sunday school and attending the sermon at church afterwards.
The Sunday school has a system of rewards that encourages children to learn Bible verses, and upon reciting it, they earn tickets. With a sufficient amount of cards, the children can receive a Bible as the grand prize. Tom, not being very bright with Bible verses, trades in tickets for various other goodies, which earns him the grand prize through no effort of his own.
At the point of receiving it, he is asked questions on the Disciples of Jesus, of which he doesn’t know the answer to thus making a fool of himself. Again, this moment only shows the wit and humor of Mark Twain. He also demonstrates exemplary writing with the last sentence, which lets the reader assume what happens.
6.”Well, den, she ain’t got no business to talk like either one er the yuther of them. Is a Frenchman a man?”
-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
This is one another moment from Mark Twain’s writing that shows his humor and wit. The scene narrates an incident where Huck is trying to explain to his friend why the French talk differently from the Americans, and he uses the example of cows and cats, that they don’t talk the same way, and hence the Frenchmen and Americans talk different languages. To which Jim argues that both French and Americans were men, and because of that, he doesn’t understand why both speak different languages.
The scene ends with Huck giving up on teaching Jim, saying that “you can’t teach a nigger to argue.” This light-hearted instance is one that defines the friendship between Huck and Jim. Irrespective of their differences, they bond so well with each other, and this moment shows the context of their relationship.
7. If the reader thinks he is done, now, and that this book has no moral to it, he is in error. The moral of it is this: If you are of any account, stay at home and make your way by faithful diligence; but if you are “no account,” go away from home, and then you will have to work, whether you want to or not. Thus you become a blessing to your friends by ceasing to be a nuisance to them—if the people you go among suffer by the operation.
Roughing it is a semi-autobiographical account of Mark Twain’s life when he traveled to Western America with his brother. The book narrates their experiences along their journey, some of which were taken from his brother’s journal. The book describes adventures and odd jobs that Twain and his brother undertook.
It is one of Twain’s most acclaimed travelogue. The best moment is when after the book, in the end, Twain emphasizes why this story has a moral, and without the moral, the story becomes entirely pointless.
8.”Oh! hang Smiley and his afflicted cow!” I muttered, good-naturedly, and bidding the old gentlemen a good-day, I departed.
The first story ever published under Mark Twain’s name is the Celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County. It is a short story that not only brings out the humor but also leaves the reader smiling. The story follows the protagonist visiting a guy named Simon Wheeler to find out about another guy called Rev. Leonidas W Smiley. Upon visiting Wheeler, he talks about a person called Jim Smiley, who has the most absurd stories. As a person who liked betting, he enrolled himself in many games of animal betting.
One such incident brought forth the jumping frog. After narrating the story, while the protagonist takes leave, Wheeler tries to get him to stay by wanting to tell the story of the one-eyed cow with no tail that Smiley had. To which the story ends with the protagonist realizing and casually putting an end to the un-true stories that Wheeler narrates.
9.”I could forgive the boy, now, if he’d committed a million sins!”
-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
Towards the end of the story, when Tom’s aunt is upset with his behavior that led to her embarrassing herself, she tries to reprimand Tom. Upon saying that, he didn’t mean to hurt her and that whatever he did was only not to grieve her did not seem like truth to his aunt as Tom was a very naughty child. He kept insisting that he was telling the truth and that if he had shown the bark to her, she would have understood.
After sending Tom to school, his aunt tries to reason with herself that the boy had said a perfect lie and turns to see the bark where Tom had written where he was headed to. The moment she reads it, Tom’s aunt is filled with tears because, for once, he was telling the truth, and that made her very happy. This is one of the most touching parts from any of Mark Twain’s books, and his writing perfectly narrates the empathy with which he has imagined the scenario.
10. I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.
Life on the Mississippi is yet another travelogue by Mark Twain. He talks about his experiences during the time he worked on a steamboat. Most of his experiences here have led to other stories of his like Huckleberry Finn. This was the book that rewarded him critical acclaim for the first time. As the narration unfolds, Twain talks about the river Mississippi and what it had it store for him. The words used in this dialogue not only emotes his feelings perfectly but also makes the reader want to experience what he had gone through.
These are some of the moments from the novels by Mark Twain that has left a mark on me. These moments are very special to not only the story, but also the reader who is absorbed into his fantastic way of writing. Do you have any other moments from his novels that you liked the most? Do let us know in the comments below.