Posted in Short Stories

Mark Twain’s “A True Story”

…she was sixty years old, but her eye was undimmed and her strength unabated. She was a cheerful, hearty soul, and it was no more trouble for her to laugh than it is for a bird to sing. She was under fire, now, as usual when the day was done. That is to say, she was being chaffed without mercy, and was enjoying it. She would let off peal after peal of laughter, and then sit with her face in her hands and shake with throes of enjoyment which she could no longer get breath enough to express. At such a moment as this a thought occurred to me, and I said:

“Aunt Rachel, how is it that you’ve lived sixty years and never had any trouble?”


In Mark Twain’s “A True Story”, Aunt Rachel, a former slave, tells how she, her husband and seven children were seperately sold at auction. And she also tells of her eventual reunion with her youngest son.

The title Twain gives this story raises some questions. Would readers perhaps wonder if this is a true story so he gives it the title to let them know it is? Could the story be part of Twain’s imagination but hold some sort of truth regardless? Could the contrast between Aunt Rachel’s joyful demeanor at age sixty and the heartbreak she suffered as a slave bring to question the truth of the story?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s