Died on April 21, 1910, as Halley’s comet again flashed through the sky.
OVERVIEW Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain's works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finnhas been repeatedly restricted in American high schools, not least for its frequent use of the word "nigger", which was a common term when the book was written. Unfortunately, a complete bibliography of his works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces written by Twain (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, many believe that a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or simply were not written down; thus, the collection of Twain's works is an ongoing process. Researchers have rediscovered published material by Twain as recently as 1995.
BACKGROUND This story takes place in central California. Gold was discovered there in 1848 near what is now Sacramento. Within the next year, almost 100,000 people, most of them young men, had moved to California, trying to strike it rich by prospecting for gold. They were called the “forty-niners,” referring to the year that they came to California. Only a few of the forty-niners made a fortune during the gold rush. Most of them had little luck finding gold. In many places where gold was discovered in the early 1850s, the mineral was not very plentiful. Such areas underwent a quick boom and a just-as-rapid bust; Twain’s story takes place in one such deserted mining area in the late 1860s or the early 1870s.
LITERARY ELEMENT Along the story we can find a literary element well known by many people as Foreshadowing. It is a writer’s use of clues to hint at events that will happen later in a story. As you read, look for clues that suggest that all is not necessarily as it seems.
WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT? “The Californian’s Tale,” is a story about a group of men who came to California during the gold rush. Some made money and spent it all, some lost it for other reasons, and others just did not make any money at all. Nevertheless, their pride prevented them from going back to their original homes, and they ended.
PLOT OF THE STORY In the story The Californian's Tale there is one main theme that leads to others. This main theme is evident it is love. Henry has a great love for his wife. His love was a never-ending feeling for her. "One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love." Henry probably had such a hard time with his wife's death that he blocked it out of his mind and started to believe that she really was still there, and that she still loved him. The quote above describes why Henry had so much love for his deceased wife, it was because her death put so much pain and weight on his life. Henry was a gold miner. He came out to California to find happiness in wealth; hint the fact he was searching for gold. Henrys wife loved him so much that she came out to California with him, and made an old nasty cottage a home.
She was probably happy without the gold. The reason she was happy was because she was in love with Henry. She was a nineteen-year old newlywed woman who was in love. Being a nineteen-year old she missed her family. So when the newlyweds were settled in their cabin she went to visit her family. She was ambushed by a group of Indians on the way and was killed. Henry soon found out that there is only one happiness in life, and that is to love and to be loved. This goes for the Lord also. Until you find the Love of the Lord you have an emptiness in your life that your try to fill with other materialistic items such as money.When Henrys friends came over to throw the party for Henry's wife the traveler found out how much love Henry needed. "And Saturday we all come and fix up the house with flowers, and get everything ready for a dance. We've done it every year for nineteen years. The first Saturday there was twenty-seven of us, without counting the girls: there's only us now". Henry's friends Joe and Tom have love/ compassion for their friend Henry. They care...
THE MAIN CHARACTER Henry was a rough veteran gold miner who, like many others, went to California in search of a better life. He married young to a nineteen year old woman who followed him to the West for the golden dream. In appearance, he is described as the typical rogue, thick, simpleton of a man who is also humble and loving. We know he is madly in love with his wife, and we also know that he has been a widower for nineteen years. She died as a result of an ambush from the Indians months after being married to him but his bereavement has left him insane, and he thinks that she is still with him.
He carries around the one letter she sent shortly before she died, and he reads it to the fellow gold miners every time the anniversary of the death comes by. In turn, the miners pretend to prepare a party for her return from "visitin her folks", drug him up right as he waits for his wife, and put him to sleep until the next day, when times goes by and the same thing happens every year. Throughout Twain's description of Henry the elements of love are ever present- the devotion of this man for his wife, a way of codepending on her company, the insanity that came about because of her loss, the joy he experiences of seeing her picture, the childish nature of his behavior when he cows down at the narrator's loss of temper. All this describes a grieving man with a low intelect but with an extremely high capacity for hospitality and love that sets him above anybody else.
ANALYSIS Protagonist: HenryAntagonist: HenryPoint of View: 1st Person LimitedConflict: Person v. SelfSetting: California, 1867, After Gold RushCharacters: Henry, Joe, Tom, Charlie, NarratorDynamic Character:Static Character: HenrySymbol: Picture, houseAllusion: Gold Rush
Exposition: Learning what the place is likeInciting Event: Shows him picture of his wifeRising Action: Stay to meet wife, meets miners, reads letter, set up party, Henry worriesClimax: The clock strikes 9 and drug HenryFalling Action: Asks what's wrongResolution: Wife is dead
How does the narrator of "The Californian's Tale" feel about the men living in the cabins? The narrator in this short story by Mark Twain is "out prospecting on the Stanislaus." He notices and describes his surroundings to the reader. In this first section of the story he tells the reader how he feels toward the men who built and lived in the cabins he comes across during his travels. "Round about California in that day were scattered a host of these living dead men-- pride-smitten poor fellows, grizzled and old at forty, whose secret thoughts were made all of regrets and longings--regrets for their wasted lives, and longings to be out of the struggle and done with it all." (Mark Twain). The narrator seems to pity these men who, when they did not hit it rich, were to prideful to go home and admit their failure. They have aged young and gotten the life beat out of them from one disappointment after another.