The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2016/17 Group Reads - Archives > A Connecticut Yankee - Ch 18 - 24

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Week three. Unfortunately I am feeling a lot like Deborah, I'm having a tough time getting through this one. And admittedly I'm behind in the reading. Thank you all again for sharing your ideas.


message 2: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments I am not technically Behind as I have this week to read this section, but normally I would have read the section by this time. Mark Twain is an important in American literature and for that reason, I want to complete the book. But it is far from a favorite. My problem is that MT grates on me.


message 3: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
I've tried to read Twain in the past and didn't enjoy it. I'm not sure why. But like you Brit, I do want to complete this book.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
I read this book a few years ago, and made myself finish it. I enjoyed the sections of Huck Finn without Tom Sawyer. When Tom appeared, the book went rapidly downhill. The main character in Connecticut Yankee reminds of Tom in some ways.
Has anyone read The Prince and the Pauper?


message 5: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4493 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I read this book a few years ago, and made myself finish it. I enjoyed the sections of Huck Finn without Tom Sawyer. When Tom appeared, the book went rapidly downhill. The main character in Connect..."

Not read it, but enjoyed the movie as a child. But then I enjoyed the movie version of this book too.


message 6: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "Has anyone read The Prince and the Pauper?..."
No Rosemarie, I haven't read it.


message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
I remember the Walt Disney version of the Prince and the Pauper, and Bing Crosby as the Connecticut Yankee, which I enjoyed.


message 8: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4493 comments Mod
Oops. I didn't mean to start a trend :0. I have slogged through many a book that I didn't like. These days my reading time is limited so I decided, for me, to put it aside. I'm hoping many others are thoroughly enjoying the book, and the discussions will continue.


message 9: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
Were there any historical events, besides Twain's personal experiences, that made him so down on aristocratic society? Or did he just think that it would be fun to see how a Yankee would react in such a different society- and take it from there? Maybe he was in a silly mood when he wrote the book???


message 10: by Phoenix (new)

Phoenix I like this from Chapter 21:

"Here she was, as sane a person as the kingdom could produce, and yet, from my point of view she was acting like a crazy woman. My land, the power of training! Of influence! Of education! It can bring a body up to believe anything."


message 11: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments “She had exactly the German way; whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopedia, or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.”

Here MT takes a stab at the German tongue! To someone whose first language is not German, the sentences can seem convoluted and the verb frequently come at the end. However, anytime you read older literature you have to handle more complex sentences. In many ways, that is the beauty of older literature. Also the ability to understand complex sentences is a great asset.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
I enjoy reading German literature(German is my first language, but I learned to read English first). Some authors have a lot of fun with the complex sentences, and the fact that you have to read the whole sentence to get the meaning. That takes concentration, but is worth it.


message 13: by Phoenix (new)

Phoenix I thought it was funny when he called her sentences transcontinental.


message 14: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
When I was in university, some of my fellow students uses transcontinental sentences - in English. Fortunately, not too many of them.


message 15: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments Twain/Hank likes the idea of the Church being split into denominations. This seems to be his answer to lessen its power and influence:

"We must have a religion -- it goes without saying -- but my idea is, to have it cut up into forty free sects, so that they will police each other, as had been the case in the United States in my time." (Ch. 18)


message 16: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments Jill wrote: "I like this from Chapter 21:

"Here she was, as sane a person as the kingdom could produce, and yet, from my point of view she was acting like a crazy woman. My land, the power of training! Of infl..."


I marked this in my notes in Ch. 18: "Training - training is everything; training is all there is to a person."

This is definitely becoming a leitmotif.


message 17: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments I am still certain that Hank is a Christ figure. His walk through the dungeon, setting free the prisoners, reminds us of Christ's excursion into hell (which Peter called a prison) to preach the gospel to those who were dead. This is a long passage, but bear with me:

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins (Hank on the stake), the righteous for the unrighteous (he had done nothing wrong), that he might bring us to God (of whom King Arthur is a figure), being put to death in the flesh (metaphorically on the stake) but made alive in the spirit (metaphorically after the eclipse), 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison (in Morgan's dungeon), 20 because they formerly did not obey (had broken a few minor laws), --I Peter 3:18-20

A popular interpretation is that Peter is saying that while Christ was dead, He preached to the souls who were in prison. That they believed on him and thus were set free from that prison. Hank is doing the same thing in Morgan Le Fay's dungeon. There is a lot here to confirm the dungeon as a type of hell. Morgan says "But it were peril to my own soul to let him die unconfessed and unabsolved. Nay, I were a fool to fling me into hell for his accommodation." She, too, is afraid of hell, if this man does not confess.


message 18: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments Interestingly enough, that same passage goes on to say:

21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (this is why the soap is such a big deal throughout. He is metaphorically trying to cleanse these people from their unrighteousness) 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God (this is the significance of Hank choosing to be King Arthur's right hand, he had these people by the short hairs, he could've had the throne), with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.--I Peter 3:18-22 (ESV)

Verse 21 mentions a good conscience. Hank said, "If I had the remaking of man, he wouldn't have any conscience." Widely, Christians understand, that Christ's goal is to remake man in His image. Hank is doing the same thing to these early Britons. More to come... Does anyone find this interesting? Or, have I gone off the theological deep-end?


message 19: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments When Hank leaves Morgan's dungeon, he says, "It was so good to open up one's lungs and take in whole luscious barrels-ful of the blessed God's untainted, dew-fashioned, woodland-scented air once more, after suffocating body and mind for two days and nights in the moral and physical stenches of that intolerable old buzzard-roost!"

This was the precise amount of time Christ spent preaching to the souls in prison. From Friday morning until Sunday morning, would have been exactly 48 hours, two days and two nights. Twain has woven a tale here. He planned this meticulously and as I work through next week's read, I am beginning to appreciate his message. This is a good read, IMHO.


message 20: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
Jonathan, all I can say is that you are a deep reader. (Which is a good thing.)
The parallels are there, that is certain. We won't know until the whole book is read if Twain planned it that way or if they were remarkable coincidences. You certainly give us food for thought.


message 21: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Jonathan wrote: More to come... Does anyone find this interesting? Or, have I gone off the theological deep-end?,..."

Well, maybe a little bit : ) However, while I thought some of your earlier comparisons might be a stretch, these last comments have intrigued me... there does seem to be some consistency in what you are finding. It may keep me reading the book. Did you say why you thought Twain might be doing this? It seems a strange enough premise to place this allegory in... altho' King Arthur's reign was definitely a time of transition, from the pagan belief systems to the Christian/Catholic belief systems, and it wasn't a graceful transition.


message 22: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments Janice(JG) wrote: "Did you say why you thought Twain might be doing this? "

Authors use Christ figures as a rhetorical device, which is to say that they have an important message they are trying to disseminate, so they charge their hero with this message, but to make it more persuasive they shape that figure into a type of Christ. Most westerners are familiar with the paradigm, and subconsciously this is how we have been trained to view a hero. If you read Twain's imagery of the attempted execution of Hank in parallel with the three synoptic gospel's depiction of the crucifixion, then you could see the importance of the sky darkening exactly at noon, Hank being hung in the nude, and Hank ascending to the right hand of King Arthur. All 3 of these are parallels. You could simply call them biblical allusions, but I see more here. Hank is a bona fide Christ figure.


message 23: by Phoenix (new)

Phoenix I've never heard of the Christ figure in literature before so I find it fascinating.


message 24: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Jonathan wrote: "I am still certain that Hank is a Christ figure. His walk through the dungeon, setting free the prisoners, reminds us of Christ's excursion into hell (which Peter called a prison) to preach the gos..."

I will not disagree that there are similarities between Hank and a Christ figure. However, there are also dissimilarity here and mainly in the spirit with which things are done. Hank is deceitful and arrogant, accomplishing things through 19th century technology and trickery. Christ of the New Testament was not the meak and mild figure from Sunday School stories. He (Jesus) spoke with authority and stood up to the leaders when necessary.

I think because arrogant personality of Hank, I totally missed the similarities to a Christ figure. I wonder if MT deliberately created Hank as a Christ figure, but more as a straw man Christ figure.


message 25: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2914 comments Mod
Brit, to me Hank is missing the spirit behind Christ. Christ did everything for others. What is the motive behind Hank's actions?


message 26: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments Brit wrote: "I think because arrogant personality of Hank, I totally missed the similarities to a Christ figure. I wonder if MT deliberately created Hank as a Christ figure, but more as a straw man Christ figure."

What I have laid out is a number of Biblical allusions which lead me to call him a Christ figure. There are a number of inconsistencies with that interpretation. Why didn't he come off the stake after 3 days? Why wasn't he sold into slavery for $30? The point is that in the language Twain uses to describe these events, he alludes to the crucifixion of Christ in several ways. When Hank comes down off the stake and ascends to the right hand of the king, he is metaphorically rising to a similar ascendancy as Christ (at the right hand of the Father). The story begins there. What is Hank doing? Is he fooling the people? Is Twain insisting that Christ fooled the people?

Look at Hank's plan. He is empowering the poor. He is extricating prisoners from their dungeon. He is "cleansing" the people. This is what Twain's point is. The people are oppressed by the Church. The poor are oppressed by the rich. Yada yada yada.

Christ figures are not supposed to be Christ. The Count of Monte Cristo was essentially a murderer, but there is not doubt he is a Christ figure.


message 27: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Well, since the book is satirical, it stands to reason that his Christliness would be satirical as well. As in possessing the forms of Christliness without the substance.


message 28: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 181 comments Abigail wrote: "Well, since the book is satirical, it stands to reason that his Christliness would be satirical as well. As in possessing the forms of Christliness without the substance."

Yes, in a way. But, also consider what Hank is doing. He is trying to do some good things. Help the poor. Lessen the oppressive power of the church.


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