Mark Twain

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. Twain is most noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has since been called the Great American Novel, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He is also known for his quotations. During his lifetime, Twain became a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists and European royalty.

Twain enjoyed immense public popularity, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. American author William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."

Spanking in Mark Twain's novels[edit]

Mark twins novels contained a large amount of spanking but this did not occur until the publication of his first official book Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Set in Antebellem South on the edge of the Mississipi River, the Tom Sawyer novels were written with a great deal of personal experience. Having grown up in Misouri on another section of the Mississippi River, Twain grew up in a broken family in a section of the country that was still supportive of slave labour. Growing up Twain was regularly spanked by his aunt who he lived with, his teachers and saw on a regular basis the spanking, whipping and caning of slaves.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer[edit]

Main article: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom Sawyer switched in an illustration by Norman Rockwell (1943)

In his first Novel, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, many of his real life experiences experiences became fodder. Inside it there were six short chapters following the main protagonist, Tom, his friend Huckleberry, half brother Sid and the new girl to the town, Beccy Thatcher.

At the beginning of the first story - Previously entitled 'Injun Joe' we find Tom painting a fence and reflecting about how his aunt will ' beat him about the ears' or ' take the shoe to him' if he leaves the job undone. Not wanting to be there however and bored out of his mind he cons some passing kids into doing the job and paying him to let them do the job.

Naturally this catches up with him, his Aunt spanking him for cheating the other boys out of their money. This sets the trend, with the stories of Tom and Huck following him through school, his meeting with the character 'Becky' and his falling for her and trying to impress her. In an attempt to do so Huck and Tom go to the local graveyard to attempt to prove their bravery, with Becky finding out and following them to act all reproachful. There they witness a murder, get into a lot of trouble, becoming witnesses.

Over the course of the story however all three get into trouble for being out late, getting additional spankings from each of their parents with Tom's being the only one fully written out - the other two having their spankings implied. They also get a good caning from their school teacher for having skipped out on class and later rapped on the knuckles from Huck's Aunt. Following this, on realizing that Injun Joe - the murderer - was going to get off the trio testify only to have him escape from prison and flee. On doing that the trio then go off on their own to try and catch him, nearly get killed in the process and are given subsequent spankings from their relieved parents for being so stupid. As a result of this each of them is given a small amount of reward money.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn[edit]

Main article: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Illustration by Edward Winsor Kemble from the original edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

Continuing on from the original story, the second book was larger and divided up into several chapters. It followed Huckleberry who, in this chapter has found himself under the care of an agressive step father. Beaten, spanked and smacked accross the rump with a large leather strap whenever he does anything wrong, he decides that he isnt apreciated or cared for and attempts to fake his death. Running away, and being accompanied by a young African boy named 'Jim' he attempts to work his way up the river to where the riverboats run. Instead of getting sensible jobs, he and his companion find themselves being turned into slave labour for a farm and are treated substantially worse. Given bare rations of food, whipped and worked for hours he and the boy eventually escape. Following that they try again with various antics, Huck pretending to be a girl at one point, the pair going back down the river and finding Tom (who had been looking for Huck) and befriending an ex-slave who was on the verge of being hung for a crime. Eventually and a few months later, the four head back to Huck's hometown where they pretend at first to be other people and try to get jobs but get discovered.

Naturally when they are caught each of them gets suitably punished, but this then gets overshadowed when Jim is arrested as a runaway and Huck goes out of his way to protect the youth, using the prizemoney from the previous story and the capture of injun joe to buy Jim's freedom.

Bad Girl Becky[edit]

Main article: Bad Girl Becky

Discovered in an attic in 1948 - The unpublished short story, Bad Girl Becky, was recently discovered as an unpublished script, believed to have been written between the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn respectively. Bad girl Becky starts with the character, Becky Thatcher, being given an award and made school prefect. Believed to be so well behaved Becky is suprised when she does something wrong and is not punished by the teacher, the teacher assuming that Tom was responsible for the bad behaviour. Realising the advantage she has here, Becky proceeds to act out, taking things, causing trouble and finding excuses so that the other children took the blame.

Bad girl Becky has the biggest per-capita spanking of all the stories Mark Twain had published. In it no fewer than seven children, three of them girls are made to take responsibility for Becky's bad behaviour; including canings on the legs and buttocks, spankings and rapping of knuckles with rulers. Many of them recieve more than one spanking and in the end the trio gang up against Becky to get her in trouble for once.

As the story was never published and only found recently, the exact reasons for not publishing the works cannot be determined however it is believed this was because of the bad influence Becky's character would have provided and the lack of moral to the final story.

The Prince and the Pauper[edit]

The prince and his whipping boy. Illustration from The Prince and The Pauper by Mark Twain.
Main article: The Prince and the Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper (1881) represents Twain's first attempt at historical fiction. Set in 1547, it tells the story of two young boys who are identical in appearance: Tom Canty, a pauper who lives with his abusive father in London, and Prince Edward, son of King Henry VIII. The novel also features a whipping boy, Humphrey Marlow, who, unaware that the prince was an impostor, helps him "relearn" the intricacies of court etiquette.

See also[edit]

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