The Five Boons of Life

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Five Boons of Life” by Mark Twain. We show you examples of elements in that are relevant for your analysis. Here, we will focus on the summary, structure, characterizations, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme, and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Five Boons of Life”
Author: Mark Twain
Date of Publication: 1902
Genre: Short Story

Mark Twain (1835-1910) is the literary alias of American author Samuel Clemens. The writer is known for his humorous, yet realistic style of writing describing different facets of American society and exploring big themes in a minimalist way. His most popular works are “The Prince and the Pauper” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, which have often been adapted into films and animations in modern times.


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The epithet “the fading day” can also function as a metaphor for life’s end; just like the day is close to an end, so is the life of the man.

A very complex and extended metaphor is also employed in the following lines: “And last of all came pity, which is the funeral of fame. Oh, the bitterness and misery of renown! target for mud in its prime, for contempt and compassion in its decay."”

Pity is called metaphorically “the funeral of fame”, while celebrity is associated with a “target”.

The main metaphor of the text is, however, the association of life experiences with gifts, which turn out to be curses in disguise from the perspective of the main character: “The gifts were five: Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure, Death.”



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The Five Boons of Life

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