Life along and on the Mississippi
Twain was reared in Hannibal, a very religious small town in Missouri by a Presbyterian mother and a freethinking father. The “Presbyterian conscience” he developed as a youth deeply affected him throughout his life. Twain’s experiences in Sunday school and church and difficult childhood that included the loss of his father and two older siblings, fear of dying, and observations of drownings, murder, and mayhem are featured in many of his writings. Both Twain and many scholars have misrepresented the Calvinism that was preached and taught in antebellum Hannibal by portraying it as denying human free agency, preaching a prosperity gospel, damning the vast majority of people to perdition, and focusing on hell. Twain was especially affected by the death of his younger brother Henry as a result of a steamboat explosion when Twain was 22.
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