illustration of a coffin sitting on tracks next to a fire and a wedge of cheese

The Invalid's Story

by Mark Twain

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What are some allusions within "The Invalid's Story"?

Expert Answers

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An allusion is a reference to another work or historical event.  There is an allusion in the story to the Christian hymn “In the Sweet By and By” as the narrator hears the hymn.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore (cyberhymnal)

The song is about death and longing to go beyond a loved one’s death.

Soon I noticed that the "Sweet By and By" was gradually fading out; next it ceased altogether, and there was an ominous stillness.

The song was written in 1868, and it helps establish both the setting and theme (death).  Twain also satirized the piece in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

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