Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
How we cite our quotes:
Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't make it out no way. (3.1)
This is one of those fun bits of dramatic irony. We know that you're supposed to pray for things like kindness, grace, forgiveness, and maybe a nice harp waiting for you in Heaven. But no one's bothered to explain this to Huck, so he thinks prayer is kind of like making an Amazon wishlist and waiting for God to click on it.
"It's so. You can do it. I had my doubts when you told me. Now looky here; you stop that putting on frills. I won't have it. I'll lay for you, my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I'll tan you good. First you know you'll get religion, too. I never see such a son. (5.12)
To Pap, the only thing worse that his boy gettin' educated is gettin' religion. We can understand that. Thirteen-year-olds are sanctimonious enough without getting all religious and trying to convert their alcoholic, abusive fathers.
The first shed we come to the preacher was lining out a hymn. He lined out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand to hear it, there was so many of them and they done it in such a rousing way; then he lined out two more for them to sing—and so on. The people woke up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end some begun to groan, and some begun to shout. Then the preacher begun to preach, and begun in earnest, too; and went weaving first to one side of the platform and then the other, and then a-leaning down over the front of it, with his arms and his body going all the time, and shouting his words out with all his might; and every now and then he would hold up his Bible and spread it open, and kind of pass it around this way and that, shouting, "It's the brazen serpent in the wilderness! Look upon it and live!" And people would shout out, "Glory!—A-a-MEN!" And so he went on, and the people groaning and crying and saying amen: (20.30)
Religion… or mass hallucination? This sounds a lot more like a hippie concert than an actual religious experience. Is Twain making fun of all the revivals in the 1830s? Or does he see something good in them?