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WAS IT HEAVEN? OR HELL?
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the "greatest humorist [the United States] has produced", and William Faulkner called him "the father of American Literature. His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), the latter often called "The Great American Novel".
Mark Twain's writing became darker, more pessimistic later in his life. Beset by a continuing, decade's long financial trouble and the death of two children (his son died in infancy and Suzy, his eldest daughter, died while he was abroad) he pursued questions of morality, religion and ethics more openly. Always found in his writings, his later works were more profound in scope and utility for such controversial topics.
“Was it Heaven? Or Hell?” was one of his latest pieces. Mark Twain would continue to experience trauma that influenced his writing; he later witnessed the death of both his wife and youngest daughter (Jean). Twain would perish just a few months after Jean, dying in Bermuda in 1910. Story: The short story, “Was it heaven? Or Hell?” is an introspective look into the complexities and paradoxes of group dynamics, morality, ethics, and leadership. The story consists of just six characters; two who struggle with conflict, two that represent the burden and dilemma of the story, one epitomizing authority and the last who elicits the moral paradox that is this story. The tale encompasses the morality of lying with the burden of death and pain; is morality so staunch and rigid that it cannot be eased to help those suffering? Where is the line between right and wrong and when, or if, should it be crossed?