“Corn-pone Opinions” Summary: Society’s Influence and Individual Identity

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Twain’s Contention: Society’s Unconscious Conformity

In Corn-pone Opinions, Mark Twain brings out the dimmer side of society, which has corrupted the individual. His controversial views stir up much emotion in the heart of the reader. Twain’s perceptions of society cause the reader to reflect on the truth of Twain’s ideas as they pertain to the reader’s own life experiences.

Originality Debunked: Society’s Stranglehold on Individual Thought

Mark Twain disagrees with the “idea that a man conforms to the majority of his locality by calculation and intention.

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” Twain argues that individuals don’t think things through; they just naturally follow societal norms. Twain also argues with the “idea that there is such a thing as…an original opinion” that Twain feels that individuals always just follow society and, therefore, are no longer capable of thinking original thoughts.

Societal Corruption: Mark Twain’s Experience in the South

While reading Corn-pone Opinions, I feel bad for Mark Twain, who had to live in a society that corrupted the individual. He grew up in the South, a place that taught its citizens to view black folks of the human race as inferiors. Some folks still do view blacks as biologically inferior, but that has long ago changed from the majority of Southerners to the minority of them. During Twain’s youth, for the most part, only naughty youngsters were on good terms with the blacks; “I had a friend whose society was dear to me because I was forbidden by my mother to partake of it.”

A Divergent Experience: Contrast and Growth

As opposed to Mark Twain, I was brought up in a society that develops the individual’s mind and heart. I’m growing up in the Jewish community of Passaic, NJ, a place that teaches its citizens to view all folks of the human race as equals. Side by side, sitting in the classroom are girls from all different families with such differing customs and personal histories, yet we are all equals. Young children whose backgrounds are so different from each other treat all their peers as equals. I have seen adults of so many ages and stages freely talking to neighbors and community members who are so different from them on so many levels.

I live amongst community members who are constantly working on bettering themselves, and therefore, I feel compelled to work on myself. Twain was correct in saying, “We get our notions and habits and opinions from outside influences.” However, I disagree with Twain’s idea that “conformity… is born of the human being’s natural yearning to stand well with his fellows and have their inspiring approval and praise.” I would hope to think that I don’t follow in the ways of society for public recognition. When I see or hear of others around me who are becoming better people, they remind me that I, too, should be trying to be a better person every day in my own way. I don’t try to be a better person to impress other people. I understand that becoming a better person for the purpose of haughtiness is so trivial.

The Efficacy of Twain’s Critique: A Balanced Evaluation

I do agree with Twain that “we all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking.” I have many times seen people, including myself, who instinctively act out of feeling without thinking things through. The saddest part is that we earnestly believe that our “ideas” are not just theories but facts. Mistaken views can be passed from person to person until these ideas become widely believed myths. The next time I hear a new piece of information that sounds just a bit off of what I know as fact, I can be a bit weary that someone just felt something sounded right and decided to spread it. The current line in my extended family is that facts can’t get in the way of a good story. When I hear a story from some of my relatives, I can assume that some parts did not genuinely happen but were genuinely imagined. Some people I know are blessed with such wild imaginations that they can somehow mistakenly transfer their feelings into knowledge.
Overall, I feel that Mark Twain’s Corn-pone Opinions hit the spot! Twain brought many strong proofs to support his ideas. He effectively rebuked those societies that corrupt their citizens’ individuality. It was really a great read!

Each reader’s personal experiences and character traits alter his or her view of Mark Twain’s ideas in Corn-pone Opinions. There will always be many who have “the inborn requirement of self-approval.” These people blindly follow society. On the other hand, there are always people like Mark Twain who took a step back and decided that “a man must and will have his own approval first of all, in each and every moment and circumstance of his life.” Every person can individually make the decision to be an individual.

Works Cited:

  1. Twain, Mark. “Corn-pone Opinions.”
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"Corn-pone Opinions" Summary: Society's Influence and Individual Identity. (2023, Aug 30). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/corn-pone-opinions-summary-societys-influence-and-individual-identity/