"Advice to Youth"Mark Twain, 1882Being told I would be expected to talk here, I inquired what sort of talk I ought to make. They said it should be something suitable to youth-something didactic, instructive, or something in the nature of good advice. Very well. I have a few things in my mind which I have often longed to say for the instruction of the young; for it is in one’s tender early years that such things will best take root and be most enduring and most valuable. First, then. I will say to you my young friends—and I say it beseechingly, urgingly— Always obey your parents, when they are present. This is the best policy in the long run, because if you don’t, they will make you. Most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your ownbetter judgment. The title lets me know that the audience is the youth. Twain says his purpose is to teach a lesson to youth (his audience was a group of young girls). He also reveals that he believes learning advice like this at a young age is when it ismost beneficial; when we are young we can learn things that stick with us as we age. The audience should be thinking, okay, what does Twain want us to learn? The audience may now be expecting a typical speech from an adult giving correct and possibly stereotypical advice to children.Beseechingly and urgingly – hyperboles used to create an exaggeration of the advice to come. He tells the youth to obey their parents when their parents ARE present. This is funny and unexpected; the audience probably thought he was going to just straight out say “obey your parents.” However, with his line, it makes the audience think-- what about when the parents are not present? Is he poking fun at the youth by implying that sometimes they don’t obey their parents when they are NOT present? Thinking about the point of satire, he could be helping the audience (and us—readers now) realize one of the things they need to improve on is obeying their parents whether their parents arepresent or not. He states most parents think they know more than kids and that it pays off in the long run to obey them. He uses some humor here in saying that it is just easier and less of a hassle to just go ahead and obey them because they will end up “making you” obey them anyway (and that doesn’t sound too enjoyable!). When he states that parents think they know more than kids, this may get us to think about and question whether or not parents really do always know better than children. Are there any situations where a parent might not know more? Situations where a youthmight need to listen to their own inner voice?When he says you can “make more” by just following what your parents say, he might be
saying that you can get more (more freedom, more trust, etc.) by just obeying them thanby disobeying them.