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(Code and Color Key)

Mark Twain's "Corn-pone Opinions"
Selection #3
Analysis Key

      A political emergency brings out the corn-pone opinion (DO) {in fine force} {in

its two chief varieties} -- the pocketbook variety [#1], [Adj. to "variety" which has its 

origin (DO) {in self-interest}], and the bigger variety [#1], the sentimental variety [#2] --

the one [#2] [Adj. to "one" which can't bear to be {outside the pale}; [#3] can't bear to

be [#4] {in disfavor}; can't endure the averted face (DO) and the cold shoulder (DO);

wants to stand [#5] well {with his friends}, wants to be smiled [#5] (P) upon, wants to

be welcome [#5], wants to hear the precious words [#5], [Appositive to "words"

"He's {on the right track}!"]] |

1. Appositive to "varieties"
2. The "sentimental variety" is an appositive to the preceding "variety," and the following "one" can be explained as an appositive to both this "variety" and the "variety" that precedes it.
3. The three semi-colons in this clause violate any rules that I am aware of regarding semi-colons. In other words, they do not separate main clauses, nor to they separate items (that have commas in them) in a series. They do separate a the first four finite verb phrases in a series of seven. Interestingly, the last four phrases are all based on the verb "wants."  Also of interest is the fact that every phrase before the last semicolon is negated ("can't"), whereas everything after it is not. Stylistically, the semicolon creates a stronger "stop" than does a comma. Thus the end of the sentence, the "wants," tends to pick up speed. Does this perhaps suggest that not only do we "want" these things, but also that we are in a hurry to get them?
     In my college Freshman composition course, we read and discuss this essay in the context of studying different types and classifications of thinkers and thinking. Many of my students  miss Twain's distinction here between the two types of corn-pone thinking. I am wondering if they do so because they are overwhelmed by the complexity and length of this 84-word main clause.
4. The infinitive "to be" functions as the direct object of "can't bear."
5. These infinitives function as direct objects of "wants." "Welcome" is a predicate adjective after "to be," and "words" is the direct object of "to hear."