Cannon on civil boat?

Dec 2017
309
Poland
#1
Last week I was reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". One part of the text sounded strange to me.

>>Then from the riverboat came a cloud of white smoke, and then another Boom! “I understand now!” said Tom. “Some person is drowned!” “That is right,” said Huck. “They did that last summer when Bill Turner was drowned. A big gun makes that Boom! And then the body rises to the top of the water.”<<

Once I stood next to the cannon during a shot. In fact, it does a small earthquake. But big guns on the such boat ..? During peacetime?
 
Nov 2010
7,265
Cornwall
#2
Last week I was reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". One part of the text sounded strange to me.

>>Then from the riverboat came a cloud of white smoke, and then another Boom! “I understand now!” said Tom. “Some person is drowned!” “That is right,” said Huck. “They did that last summer when Bill Turner was drowned. A big gun makes that Boom! And then the body rises to the top of the water.”<<

Once I stood next to the cannon during a shot. In fact, it does a small earthquake. But big guns on the such boat ..? During peacetime?
Not sure it was very big, the boats would shake to bits. 42 years since I did Huck Finn at O level, but:

Firstly it wasn't entirely safe in those days. But I think a big problem on the river was fog and the riverboats used to fire shots to warn each other where they were (not necessarily loaded). And for some reason they thought firing the guns would make a body rise to the surface, but I'm fairly sure it was just river superstition. Small calibre 'pop-guns' in naval terms
 
Likes: Zbigniew

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,615
Portugal
#3
Last week I was reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". One part of the text sounded strange to me.

>>Then from the riverboat came a cloud of white smoke, and then another Boom! “I understand now!” said Tom. “Some person is drowned!” “That is right,” said Huck. “They did that last summer when Bill Turner was drowned. A big gun makes that Boom! And then the body rises to the top of the water.”<<

Once I stood next to the cannon during a shot. In fact, it does a small earthquake. But big guns on the such boat ..? During peacetime?
Until the 19th century it was pretty common that civilian ships would be armed with cannons. On the other hand maybe that was not that common in river boats… but again the story is in the USA…

The items raised by johnincornwall are also relevant.

One thing seems certain, if Mark Twain wrote it, than most probably its use was plausible for the reader.
 
Likes: Zbigniew
Nov 2010
7,265
Cornwall
#5
Yes, I was think about this. As far I know, this book is important mostly because we can learn something about culture in XIX in this part of USA. Boys had lot of funny superstition. Maybe adults had this river superstition, as you say.
Yes but not just boys also the negro ex-slave population. As you'll see when you get to Huckleberry Finn and the importance of Jim's hairball and other weird supersticians! If I recall.

As stated Mark Twain was speaking from experience, he was there. Parts of Huck Finn are quite brutal to us today.
 
Dec 2017
309
Poland
#6
As you'll see when you get to Huckleberry Finn and the importance of Jim's hairball and other weird supersticians!
Yes, I read about this ball. Although Jim said the ball needs money. Only then will the ball tell you about the future. And when she "started talking", this information was not worth much. I do not know if Jim really believed it or if he wanted money ;)

As stated Mark Twain was speaking from experience, he was there. Parts of Huck Finn are quite brutal to us today.
For sure! What shocked me the most, young boys killed wild animals several times and cooked them. And it was "normal". And a story about the "pathological" father of Huckleberry. I've never read anything like it at school. It's a pretty brutal world. Of course, I read stories from the war and criminal stories, but that's a bit different.
 
Feb 2011
6,113
#7
This is the preface to the book:

MOST of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of my own, the rest those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also, but not from an individual — he is a combination of the characteristics of three boys whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order of architecture.

The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent among children and slaves in the West at the period of this story — that is to say, thirty or forty years ago.

Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.

THE AUTHOR.


Albeit it might make sense if you think about it, even if it's not cost efficient and highly uneconomical. If a dead body don't float to the top by itself, then it's probably snagged by something underwater. A cannonshot just might shake it loose.
 
Likes: Zbigniew
Dec 2017
309
Poland
#9
By the way...

The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent among children and slaves in the West at the period of this story — that is to say, thirty or forty years ago.
This is not so "odd" to me. When I was in the age of Tom Sawyer, I believed (me and all the boys in my neighborhood) in the famous legend about the devil, who travels in a black car :)
 

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