Mark Twain’s “Luck” is an amusing story about a Reverend (a former instructor and soldiers in the military) who describes his former pupil as a “absolute fool” and the “supremest ass in the universe (368).” According to the Reverend his former pupil, Scoresby, only succeeds through luck. The Reverend describes himself as an intelligent saint while Scoresby is described as a sweet, idiot.
The following are some phrases and words the Reverend uses to describe the pupil and lucky soldier: “didn’t know anything,” delivers himself of answers which were veritably miraculous for stupidity and ignorance,” “a wooden-head,” and “guileless (367).” The Reverend helps Scoresby cram for each test and Scoresby “went through with flying colors on examination day (367).” At this point a reader may begin to suspect that the Reverend may have a touch of jealousy.
The Reverend uses the following words and phrases to describe himself and his actions when he helps Scoresby cram for his test, “compassion” and an “act of charity” (367). Then the Reverence uses the word “blunder” eight times to describe Scoresby’s military career (368). The Reverend actually has the nerve to argue that he knows that Scoresby mistook “his right hand for his left” and accidentally makes a call that saves soldiers lives. Twain is brilliant to write “Luck” in a third person point of view making the Referent’s point of view to seem absurd. The Reverend seems to be out of touch with reality in making his statements.
The first narrator describes the Reverend as, “a man of strict veracity and that his judgment of men was good. Therefore I know, beyond doubt or question, that the world was mistaken about this hero [Scoresby], he was a fool (367).” In addition, Mark Twain adds in a note about the title that says, “This is not a fancy sketch. I got it from a clergyman who was an instructor at Woolwich forty years ago, and who vouched for its truth (366).” These statements make the story all the more amusing for those who go back and reread “Luck” a second time. In conclusion, Mark Twain’s word choice and point of view choice makes “Luck” an amusing story.
Twain, Mark. “Luck” 1891. (p. 366-368) in Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 6th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001.