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“The Invalid’s Story” By Mark Twain.

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1 “The Invalid’s Story” By Mark Twain

2 Setting: Time: late 1800’s; 1 night Place: Ohio to Wisconsin by train
P.D.: winter, warm, smelly train car

3 Plot: The narrator receives word his friend has passed; he must accompany his body back home to his parents. At the train station, there is a mix-up. Unbeknownst to the narrator, he has a box of guns rather than his friends body. Someone places a box of Limburger cheese in the train car and it begins to smell. The narrator and the expressman think it’s the body. Both men try to move the box, step outside the car, break a window, smoke cigars, sprinkle carbolic acid and burn fragrant materials – nothing works. Three weeks later, after a bout of illness, the narrator learns the truth about the rifles and cheese.

4 Characterization: Narrator – 41, bachelor, accompanies his friend’s body in a train car. He mistakes a box of guns for the body and the odor of Limburger cheese for the body decomposing. Two years later, he humorously relates the story using exaggeration. Thompson – 50’s, jolly, comical man. Riding in a train car with the narrator, also mistakes the odor of the cheese for the decomposing body. Finds humorous ways to describe the narrator’s friend and helps the narrator try to cover the smell.

5 Conflict: Man vs. AF Narrator vs. the odor
The narrator and Thompson vs stifling heat and the odor of the train car caused by a mix-up in boxes and a piece of Limburger The men are driven out into the cold and become sick. Three weeks later, they find out about the mix up. Two years later, the narrator recounts the event.

6 Theme: Things are not always what they seem
Your imagination can run away with you

7 Literary Elements & Techniques:
Point of View – first person participant Humor – Sometimes created through exaggeration. Grisly humor – this refers to topics which aren’t usually considered funny. “I seem sixty and married, but these effects are due to my condition and sufferings, for I am a bachelor, and only 41.” “He’s pretty ripe, ain’t he?” Flashback – the story is told in retrospect Situational Irony – Three weeks after the entire ordeal which changed his life dramatically, the narrator finds out he had been transporting guns rather than a body and the smell was Limburger cheese.

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