Reading Quiz: "Two Ways of Seeing a River," by Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens).

"Two Ways of Seeing a River" is an excerpt from the end of Chapter Nine of Mark Twain's autobiographical work Life on the Mississippi.

After reading the essay, take this short quiz, and then compare your responses with the answers at the bottom of the page.

  1. In the opening sentence of "Two Ways of Seeing a River," Twain introduces a metaphor, comparing the Mississippi River to
    (A) a snake
    (B) a language
    (C) something wet
    (D) a beautiful woman with a deadly disease
    (E) the devil's highway
  1. In the first paragraph, Twain employs the technique of repeating key words to emphasize a main point. What is this repeated line?
    (A) the majestic river!
    (B) I had made a valuable acquisition.
    (C) I still keep in mind a wonderful sunset.
    (D) I had lost something.
    (E) All the grace, the beauty, the poetry.
  2. The detailed description that Twain provides in paragraph one is recalled from whose point of view?
    (A) an experienced steamboat captain
    (B) a small child
    (C) a beautiful woman with a deadly disease
    (D) Huckleberry Finn
    (E) Mark Twain himself, when he was an inexperienced steamboat pilot
  3. In the first paragraph, Twain describes the river as having a "ruddy flush." Define the adjective "ruddy."
    (A) crude, rough, unfinished condition
    (B) having a sturdy build or strong constitution
    (C) inspiring pity or compassion
    (D) reddish, rosy
    (E) neat and orderly
  4. How are Twain's comments on the "sunset scene" in the second paragraph different from his descriptions of it in the first paragraph?
    (A) The experienced pilot is now able to "read" the river rather than marvel at its beauty.
    (B) The older man has grown bored with life on the river and simply wants to return home.
    (C) The river looks strikingly different at sunset from the way it appears at dawn.
    (D) The river is suffering as a result of pollution and physical decay.
    (E) The older and wiser man perceives the true beauty of the river in ways that the younger man would probably make fun of.
  1. In paragraph two, Twain employs which figure of speech in the line concerning "the river's face"?
    (A) mixed metaphor
    (B) oxymoron
    (C) personification
    (D) epiphora
    (E) euphemism
  2. In the final paragraph, Twain raises questions in regard to the way that a doctor might examine the face of a beautiful woman. This passage is an example of what technique?
    (A) wandering away from the subject
    (B) drawing an analogy
    (C) making a transition to an entirely new topic
    (D) deliberate word-for-word repetition to achieve emphasis
    (E) anti-climax

    ANSWERS:
    1. B; 2. D; 3. E; 4. D; 5. A; 6. C; 7. B.