Twain is describing a country in the mist of battle, hedescribes the soldiers as ready for war and all the people are cheering themon. “It was a time of great exalting excitement” stated the first line of MarkTwain’s passage War Prayer, and he continues to talk aboutthe patriotism within the town. Throughout the passage Twain uses certain sentencestructure, hyperbolism, irony, and his tone shift to reveal his bitter attitudetowards war.
Within thefirst paragraph Twain uses an extremely long sentence, starting with “Thecountry was up in arms…”. He uses many commas and semicolons to imply excitementthrough these pauses. He goes on to use more sentences punctuated withsemicolons and commas, and structured around parallel phrases to reveal hisattitude towards war. Twain also uses hyperboles throughout the whole passage.Diction choices such their emotion was “Chocked” instead of full, or the solderswould “swing by” instead of just marching or walking. Twain uses these words tomock the patriotic fans of the solders because their celebrations are too overthe top, and to make a point that society is too satisfied with the war.
Thepassage uses irony to convey Twain’s theme. The members of the town cometogether as a church every Sunday to pray for their soldiers, but their prayerstalk about their hopes to “drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of theirwounded” but then they go onto to say “go fourth the sweet peace of our belovedfiresides to smite the foe”. The prayers of the people in the town wish thattheir be no mercy on the enemy, however, theses prayers are said in a church werepeople are taught to love and care for one another. This is ironic because thepeople pray for destruction and pain, in a place of calamity and peace. In the end,the man God sent to talk to the towns people ends in failure. The peoplebelieve the man was a lunatic even though he brought the “unspoken” prayer thatthey all knew they should be praying like him. This man tells them that becausethey are praying for victory they are also praying to destroy the enemy.
Twainbegins with a hopeful, optimistic tone, and shift towards irony. Even thoughthe tone shifts his bitter attitude towards the war never changes. Twain usesthis tone shift to bring attention to how contradictory the churches attitudeits towards war.
The War Prayer is a message to all that advocatingfor the war doesn’t only mean that supporting the fight for peace and victory,but also supporting death and destruction of one’s enemies.