Mark Twain's The War Prayer Summary

Mark Twain's The War Prayer Summary
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  • 0:01 Mark Twain
  • 0:57 The War Prayer
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

'The War Prayer' is an essay written by Mark Twain about the results of war and how pride and passion for the fight have consequences that no one understands.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain, originally born Samuel Clemens in 1835, is one of the greatest authors in history. Known for books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Prince and the Pauper, he has reached wide audiences with his classic storytelling. Although Twain received great praise for his work, his home life was a struggle. He and his wife Livy were happy and in love, but they lost 3 of their children at varying ages. He spent his last ten years seemingly angry one moment and calm the next. Twain started to lose his memory, which meant a lot of his work went unfinished.

However, in 1904, six years before he died at the age of 74, he dictated a story called ''The War Prayer,'' which was his viewpoint on the military and war. A controversial piece, ''The War Prayer'' was not published until after his death in 1910.

The War Prayer

''The War Prayer'' begins with passionate people supporting their men going off to war to fight for their beliefs. There are no negative thoughts; it is all excitement for the handsomeness of the soldiers as they march by. Every day is filled with support and prayer for the men going off to war.

The people then gather at church on Sunday, the day before all the boys and men would be sent to war. Everyone was there to pray, not only for the safety of the soldiers, but for their success in battle. The sermon starts with appropriate Bible verses that support the war, and music. Then comes what Twain calls ''the long prayer''. The preacher prays for the soldiers to guarantee their safety and to win their battles. He says ''make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory...''

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