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What Is The Story About?

Mark Twain’s “The Five Boons Of Life” relates a seeming simplistic fairy tale in which a man is visited by a “good fairy” who offers him the choice to pick one of five gifts from her basket, namely: “Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure and Death. ” The fairy emphasizes that there’s only one gift which truly mattered. Without giving the matter a particular amount of consideration, the young man automatically chose pleasure. He was granted the gift and the fairy later on returned to find the man disappointed of the short lived gift he received.

The young man was given another chance to pick from the remaining four gifts and he chose love. Each time the young man is endowed with a gift, its momentary nature inevitably leaves him disappointed; and each time the fairy returns asking him to choose wisely, and to choose the one gift which held true value. “Pleasure” and “Riches” went by, and all that was left at the end of a long life devoid of the four fleeting gifts which was initially given to the man is the ‘gift’ of death, which the fairy regards as the most valuable of all.

2. What details are important? Why? The five boons or gifts, which the fairy was generously offering up to the young man at the beginning of the story – pleasure, love, fame, wealth and death – represents, embodies, and perhaps encompasses elements of humanity which people either long for or inevitably experience in varying degrees and instances; however brief, or in the case of death, absolute and ultimate.

The obvious relation of the said ‘gifts’ to humanity is implied at the beginning of the story when Twain writes, “In the morning of life came a good fairy with her basket… ” 3. How is the story true? Humanity, and the themes which make up the extent of every individual’s life is reflected in Twain’s story. “The Five Boons Of Life” may have been told in a form and manner which appears to be disguised as “children’s literature,” but a more than cursory glance of the story tells us otherwise.

It evokes the obvious truth that nothing in this life is constant. Everything is fleeting, and everything ephemeral, save for the instance of death, which is all people have left at the end of a life blessed or plague with the said momentary pleasures. 4. How is the story significant to the reader? Evaluate the story as to its strengths and needs. The story relates an undeniable truth which exists throughout the course of humanity, that all we desire, however much we think it will make us happy, will inevitably exhaust or be taken from us.

It reinforces the truth that every instance and circumstance in this life, however wonderful or genuinely good is nevertheless momentary and fleeting. And while emphasizing this particular reality holds great significance, it also appears to be the weak point of the story. It offers a seeming cynical take on life by implying that the experiences which the man in the story went through were meaningless, and that he should have chosen death to begin with, because that would have saved him from misery and “insult of old age.

” While our mistakes and failures are nothing to celebrate and be happy about, they nonetheless count as an important aspect of our existence, and shouldn’t be dismissed as trivial. 5. Critique The story delivers an affecting insight on humanity, and reflects the writer’s view on life. My only qualms on “The Five Boons of Life” is that it appears to imply that since death is the only absolute and seemingly sensible thing which every individual is bound to arrive to, the protagonist should have chosen that instead.

What fails to be acknowledged is that the mistakes and seeming triviality which people engage in, however plagued with misery and disappointment makes up the better part of our lives, and essentially, is what life and living is about. Twain’s short story appears devoid of this optimism regarding lfe and living, but nonetheless appears to imply how silly it would be to choose death over the “wanton insult of old age” when he writes, about the fairy offering a child the five boons and giving the child the ‘gift’ of death, “It was ignorant, but trusted me, asking me to choose for it.

You did not ask me to choose. ” Perhaps that is what life’s ultimate essence is about, more than death, more than the momentary and ephemeral themes which exist in the story. The freedom to choose, and to reap the fruits of our choices. Works Cited Twain, Mark. “The Five Boons Of Life. ” The Literature Network. 8 February 2008. <http://www. online-literature. com/twain/319/>

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