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Mark Twain’s the Story of the Good Little Boy - the Meaning of Being Good

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The Meaning of Being Good

Mark Twain’s, “The Story of the Good Little Boy,” there are components of irony that Twain uses to comments throughout the entire story. The protagonist, Jacob Blivens, attempts to be good, tries to do good things, and striving to be a devout Christian, which he does with zigzag intentions. Jacob performs good deeds, but does not do them from the kindness of his hearts, he does them for people to recognize him. Jacob’s goodness is completely different from what an “optimal” Christian should be. Simply, Jacob’s speculations are he is being good, when the only things he is craving for is attention. It is ironic throughout the entire short story, he does not get such valedictions that he properly deserves. Twain uses this story not for simple amusement, but to deliver a thought to society during this era. The thought Twain is suggesting to everyone can perform good deeds; however, if the good deed is performed for an inverse reason, one will never achieve their complete reward.

The title, “The Story of the Good Little Boy,” is ironic itself. For first-time readers, who never read the story, can assume believing Jacob is a fabulous child; but if this story was read more than once, the irony is within the title. The irony that the title presents can coincide the objective of the story itself, because an individual in society can achieve an epithet that appears they are “good” and dependable individual does not state/mean they are.

Jacob’s true reason for performing good deeds starts in paragraph three, “Jacob had a noble ambition to be put in a Sunday-school book.” (Twain) Jacob’s purpose that he wants to grasp is what aids Jacob to behave in a peculiar way. “He wouldn’t play marbles on Sunday, he wouldn’t rob birds’ nests, he wouldn’t give hot pennies to organ grinders’ monkeys; he didn’t seem to take any interest in any kind of rational amusement.” (Twain) The passage presents a question, does Jacob act like a normal boy? He strayed away from any classification of the label of being an ill-behaved/bad boy.

Jacob’s many encounters are ironic. Jacob’s first ironic encounter, was when he was with one of the “bad boys.” (Twain) Jim Blake (labeled as a bad boy) when Jacob tells the story about him. “When he found Jim Blake stealing apples…who fell out of a neighbor’s apple tree…but he fell on him and broke his arm, and Jim wasn’t hurt at all. Jacob couldn’t understand that. There wasn’t anything in the books like it.” (Twain) This scene is not what the readers expect, by Jacob being a good boy; however, Jacob’s first encounter is a good representation of how ironic this story is.

The next ironic encounter is Jacob being beaten with a cane. Jacob sees a blind man being pushed in mud, by a group of “bad boys.” He runs to reap the grace; however, we see a turn of events. “…Jacob ran to help him and receive his blessing.” (Twain) Instead, Jacob receives “whacks” to his head. Jacob becomes confused at this situation, “This was not in accordance with any of the books. Jacob looked them all over to see.” (Twain) Jacob is unable to find a solution, Jacob is so persistent to achieve the label of being good, he remembers the good deed that he constantly always wanted to do.

The next ironic encounter that would give Jacob “imperishable gratitude.” (Twain) is helping a “lame dog.” (Twain)

At this point, the readers are not surprised anymore, because Jacob’s mission does not go as planned. One day Jacob finds a dog, which has not received any goodness from being someone’s treasure companion. Jacob took the dog home, he feeds the god; however, when Jacob pets the dog; however, when Jacob pets the dog, then the dog attacks him. Stated

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