Asked • 06/15/19

Mark Twain and the tenses?

Maybe I'm being too pedantic for my own good, but here's the thing. There is in Mark Twain's short story titled *Journalism in Tennessee* a passage in which, if you take a good close look, the simple past and past perfect seem to be mixed up. Here's the passage: >At the end of the next three hours I had been through perils so awful that all peace of mind and all cheerfulness were gone from me. Gillespie had called and thrown me out of the window. Jones arrived promptly, and when I got ready to do the cowhiding he took the job off my hands. In an encounter with a stranger, not in the bill of fare, I had lost my scalp. Another stranger, by the name of Thompson, left me a mere wreck and ruin of chaotic rags. And here's the (seeming) problem: The entire story is related in the past tense. The first sentence of the passage is in past perfect, since events that took place earlier than the present chronological point of the story, are discussed, hence "I had been through perils ...". The second sentence is in keeping with the first one: past perfect, and so is the fourth one, but NOT the third one, nor the firth one (simple past tense is used in both). How come?

1 Expert Answer

By:

Still looking for help? Get the right answer, fast.

Ask a question for free

Get a free answer to a quick problem.
Most questions answered within 4 hours.

OR

Find an Online Tutor Now

Choose an expert and meet online. No packages or subscriptions, pay only for the time you need.