Twain Opening There is little voiced debate that Mark Twain is one of the greatest American of all time. His often brash and slyly satirical wit combined with his mastery of the English Language place him on a pedestal next to a picture of Uncle Sam holding a Bald Eagle as a symbol of American pride and patriotism. Yet very little is publicized about what a voracious anti-war activist and political-reform advocate Mark Twain actually was. In a lesser known but incredibly powerful short fiction by Twain titled "The War Prayer," the author uses his rapier wit and a fountain pen to voice his ironclad opinions on American involvement in foreign wars, the complete disillusionment of the Christian Religion, and questions the true definition of the word "Patriotism."
Three insightful essays in particular help to capture the unresolved American feelings Mark Twain exhibits in his work The War Prayer. An essay by former Louisiana Tech English professor Gary Sloan details the American author’s absolute contempt of Christianity, and it’s deep rooted ties to American politics. Another equally eye opening essay by David Caplan, "That Grotesque and Laughable Word," exposes the wide and varying opinions among Americans as to what the American definition and application of the word Patriotism was in Twain’s time, is today, and should be in the future. Lastly, a quieter article by David Zmijewski first published in the Hawaiian Journal of History, helps to glimpse a rare and seemingly contradictory side of Mark Twain. Caught in a moral quandary Twain is shown in written correspondence with American elected officials suggesting the urgent need for America to annex and acquire Hawaii. and to begin showing a stronger military presence in the Sandwich, and Philippine Islands.
With his gift of language and literary prose the author Mark Twain could have easily turned out cutting political essays, or lectured at length about his personal dissatisfactions with America at that time. But instead, the artist Mark Twain uses his uncanny literary ability to create a story that weaves the sharpest and strongest of his feelings together with the power of suggestion. The same power anyone feels deep in their gut when confronted with great art.