In Mark Twain's memoir from Life on the Mississippi, Twain comes to the realization of the realities of the Mississippi River. After a life along the river and knowing "every trifling feature that bordered the great river as well as he knew his alphabet (Twain paragraph 2)," Twain comes to understand his changed perspective on the beauty of the river. Through his memoir, Mark Twain shows readers the effect of "experience" on the loss of innocence and on the changing perspective one has of life.
As a whole, the first paragraph of the memoir is highly positive and it deals with Twain's innocent and original view perception of the Mississippi River he held at the beginning of his job as a pilot of a riverboat. He looked to the Mississippi River with high enthusiasm and was taken away by what he considered to be "beauty." Twain expects the readers to feel much like he did in the beginning of his job and for the most part he attempts to do this by expecting readers to think of the river as a simple beauty. The most prominent literary device used in this first paragraph is an extended metaphor. In the paragraph, Twain compares the Mississippi River to a cherished novel and a deep understanding of such a novel. Through this extended metaphor, Mark Twain excels at providing a great comparison while conveying his perspective of the river at the beginning of his job in a very simplistic manner. Like a book, the Mississippi River, in the eyes of Mark Twain, was a hidden beauty, whose true nature can only be understood by those who pay attention to the river and find deeper meaning in the river. To Mark Twain, "The face of the waterbecame a wonderful book" and was "a dead language to the uneducated passenger (Twain paragraph 1)." This statement shows readers how Twain thought of the Mississippi River as a wonder book but an unknown and dead language to those who did not know how to comprehend the beauty of the river.