“The Five Boons of Life” is a short story about a man who must choose one of five gifts: fame, love, riches, pleasure, or death. He is warned that only one of the gifts is valuable, and he must choose wisely. The man is initially drawn to the more superficial gifts, but he eventually realizes that love is the most valuable gift of all. Read More 1st Year English Summaries.
The Five Booms of Life Summary
Samuel Langhorne Clemens is popularly known by his pen name Mark Twain. He was an American writer, humonist and lecturer. He is rightly called the father of American literature. His short story ‘The Five Boons of Life’ is a parable with his characteristic twist at the end.
The theme of the story is the deceiving nature of human life. This is enhanced through the motifs of Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure and Death. These five metaphorical gifts are actualley five human experiences which are more or less universal. The story conveys the pessimistic message of the writer that there is nothing pure in life. Every good thing one experiences is showed its reverse. According to him, Death is the only eternal truth which becomes a gift when one transcends the fear of death.
In the story a fairy comes to a youth and grants him permission to choose one of her five gifts. Pleasure, Love, Fame, Wealth and Death. The fairy also warns him that only one of these gifts is truly valuable. So, he should choose wisely. First, he chooses pleasure. But soon he comes to realize this gift is transcient and often followed by pain. Afterwords, he chooses love.
But when the fairy returns he is about to bury a loved one and has corne to realize that love also brings grief with it. His third choice is fame. Yet once gain is disappointed. He only gets to enjoy fame for a brief time, before he becomes the target of enjoy and calumny. On having chosen wealth later to deride his detractors, he becomes a pauper Finally, he seeks for death realizing that he has nothing in life to love for. But the fairy has already given her gift of death to a child leaving the man in a miserable state. Thus the man endsup seeing what he thought are great gifts are actually mere lendings.
The fairy offers many warnings to the man about choosing wisely and has the expressions of disapproval when the man chooses incorrectly. But he focuses on himself and not on the advice from the gift giver. Selfishness, desire to get ahead be the best, have the best are still issues facing man even today.
In the conclusion of “The Five Boons of Life,” Twain reveals that the only valuable gift is love. He uses the man’s journey to show that true happiness and fulfillment come from love and meaningful relationships, not material possessions or fleeting pleasures. The story is a reminder that we should cherish the love we have in our lives and never take it for granted.