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Rock Street, San Francisco

Twain is describing a country in the mist of battle, he
describes the soldiers as ready for war and all the people are cheering them
on. “It was a time of great exalting excitement” stated the first line of Mark
Twain’s passage War Prayer, and he continues to talk about
the patriotism within the town. Throughout the passage Twain uses certain sentence
structure, hyperbolism, irony, and his tone shift to reveal his bitter attitude
towards war.

                Within the
first paragraph Twain uses an extremely long sentence, starting with “The
country was up in arms…”. He uses many commas and semicolons to imply excitement
through these pauses. He goes on to use more sentences punctuated with
semicolons and commas, and structured around parallel phrases to reveal his
attitude towards war. Twain also uses hyperboles throughout the whole passage.
Diction choices such their emotion was “Chocked” instead of full, or the solders
would “swing by” instead of just marching or walking. Twain uses these words to
mock the patriotic fans of the solders because their celebrations are too over
the top, and to make a point that society is too satisfied with the war.

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passage uses irony to convey Twain’s theme. The members of the town come
together as a church every Sunday to pray for their soldiers, but their prayers
talk about their hopes to “drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their
wounded” but then they go onto to say “go fourth the sweet peace of our beloved
firesides to smite the foe”. The prayers of the people in the town wish that
their be no mercy on the enemy, however, theses prayers are said in a church were
people are taught to love and care for one another. This is ironic because the
people 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 people
believe the man was a lunatic even though he brought the “unspoken” prayer that
they all knew they should be praying like him. This man tells them that because
they are praying for victory they are also praying to destroy the enemy. Twain
begins with a hopeful, optimistic tone, and shift towards irony. Even though
the tone shifts his bitter attitude towards the war never changes. Twain uses
this tone shift to bring attention to how contradictory the churches attitude
its towards war.

                The War Prayer is a message to all that advocating
for the war doesn’t only mean that supporting the fight for peace and victory,
but also supporting death and destruction of one’s enemies.


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