What is Mark Twain's purpose in writing "Eve's Diary"?
Is it for entertainment or to inform about some concept that he found important? Or is its purpose to persuade us to believe a certain way? What are some quotes that would help prove the purpose?
To consider Mark Twain’s purpose in writing the short story “Eve’s Diary” we need to keep in mind what kind of a writer Twain is. For the most part, Twain is what is known as a satirist. Satire is the use of humor to expose a fault or a weakness. Writers like Twain like to make people laugh while at the same time bringing to light problems in society or with humanity in general.
Twain was also not an avowed follower of any particular religion. While he did not castigate Christianity in his writing, he did make fun of people who he considered hypocritical in their beliefs and behaviors. His writing also sometimes dealt with the seemingly random nature of the universe. In “Eve’s Diary” Twain is not really criticizing Christianity, although some might feel that his version of the early part of the Biblical book of Genesis is inappropriate. He is expressing what he feels to be the incomprehensibility of life and the unknowability of life’s creator. Thus he has Eve and Adam write in their diaries about how confused they are about the life they suddenly have. They are plunked down in Eden but do not know much about it. They are uncertain about their roles and expectations. In this way they are like man has always been—in the dark about the meaning of life.
Twain attributes many quotes to Adam and Eve to demonstrate their ignorance. This one comes from Eve:
At first it used to vex me because, with all my watching, I was never smart enough to be around when the water was running uphill.
Eve does not understand the world she lives in. She was not created with an innate sense of the physical laws that the universe adheres to. Like all the rest of mankind, she must learn through trial and error. Twain seems to be saying that God has placed us here on Earth in a mysterious situation and we must do the best we can while never really knowing for sure what is going on.
Surprisingly (to me at least), Twain shows a little sentimentality at the end the story. Adam and Eve finally get together and achieve happiness as a couple. Death, however, must intervene, and the story closes with Adam’s words about Eve:
Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.
Twain seems to drop his satiric tone here, implying that people can love each other deeply, despite living in a world that they cannot truly understand.