“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...
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