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I want the analysis of the character Henry in "The Californian Tale" by Mark Twain.

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danystrugo | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 28, 2009 at 4:33 PM via web

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I want the analysis of the character Henry in "The Californian Tale" by Mark Twain.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 28, 2009 at 11:37 PM (Answer #1)

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Henry was a rough veteran gold miner who, like many others, went to California in search of a better life. He married young to a nineteen year old woman who followed him to the West for the golden dream. 

In appearance, he is described as the typical rogue, thick, simpleton of a man who is also humble and loving.  We know he is madly in love with his wife, and we also know that he has been a widower for nineteen years. She died as a result of an ambush from the Indians months after being married to him but his bereavement has left him insane, and he thinks that she is still with him.  He carries around the one letter she sent shortly before she died, and he reads it to the fellow gold miners every time the anniversary of the death comes by. In turn, the miners pretend to prepare a party for her return from "visitin her folks", drug him up right as he waits for his wife, and put him to sleep until the next day, when times goes by and the same thing happens every year.

Throughout Twain's description of Henry the elements of love  are ever present- the devotion of this man for his wife, a way of codepending on her company, the insanity that came about because of her loss, the joy he experiences of seeing her picture, the childish nature of his behavior when he cows down at the narrator's loss of temper. All this describes a grieving man with a low intelect but with an extremely high capacity for hospitality and love that sets him above anybody else.

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