The essay that I chose to analyze is called “Corn-pone Opinions” (pages 1-5), written by Mark Twain in 1901. Since I couldn’t decide on which essay to pick, I went with this essay as Jennifer recommended. Since it is the very first essay in the book and it was written in the early 19th century, I was expecting it to be one of those unbearable essays to handle. As I read through it, I found out it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to read, but I found that could be confusing on some points. Even though the essay is 110 years old, some of the content of the essay can still apply to modern times.
Before getting into the essay, I would like to talk a little bit about the author. The author’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, later known as Mark Twain. He was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He is a well known American author and humorist. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1855) also called “the Great American Novel” and The adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) are two of his famous novels.
This essay is about how and why personal opinions are formed and how they conform to public opinion. Throughout the essay, he talks about how public opinions are so strong that they affect people’s choices of “fashion in clothes, or manners, or literature, or politics, or religion, or any other matter that is projected into the field of our notice and interest”; so strong that not many can resist. “It is our nature to conform; it is a force which not many can successfully resisit” (page 2).
The term “corn pone” is sometimes used to refer to one who possesses certain rural, unsophisticated peculiarities (“he’s a corn pone”), or as an adjective to describe particular rural, folksy or “hick” characteristics (e.g., “corn pone” humor). The term is sometimes intended as a pejorative, often directed at persons from rural areas of the southern and midwestern U.S.”
So it seems that Twain quotes his friend using the term “corn pone” as bread. However, Twain uses it like it’s defined above — Twain is using the term “corn pone” to describe a particular type of opinion. In this case, that opinion is one based on public opinion, rather than personal thought and conviction.
Why does Twain use “I” at the beginning of the essay and later he changes to use “We”?
In order to fit in a majority, do you think we need to conform our opinion?
Do you think conformity in society still exist now-a-days?