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MonkeyNotes-The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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PART II

RESUMING THE NARRATION

Franklin resumes his narration after almost ten years. Franklin explains the gap. He is too involved with the efforts of the Revolutionary War to continue his narrative. However, he receives several letters, including ones from Abel James and Benjamin Vaughan, asking him to continue the narration of his success story that will have educational value to all future generations. Franklin accepts the challenge and writes Part II when he is at Passey near Paris in 1784. Franklin is in France, for he has been commissioned to negotiate a treaty between the French and American Governments.

In Part II, the narrative progresses with lucidity and gives the prescription that reinforces the motif of the "rags to riches" theme of the American Dream. In writing Part II, Franklin grows more analytical and introverted. Rather than concentrating on his public activities and social achievements, he seems more interested in examining the development of his character. It should be noted that he is seventy-eight and in ill health when he writes Part II.

At the beginning of Part II, Franklin discusses the letter he has received from Abel James. Abel had happened to receive a copy of the manuscript of Part I, containing about twenty-three sheets and some notes. Having read Franklin's personal account, James pleads with Franklin to continue with his story without further delay. He commends the merit of the narrative as having a great influence in molding the minds of younger generations and encouraging them to become as successful as Franklin.

Franklin shows James' letter and his manuscript to his friend Vaughan; he asks Vaughan to read them and give him comment and advice. After reading the manuscript and the letter of James, Vaughan also encourages Franklin to resume the narration. He justifies his request by giving Franklin definite reasons to continue: 1) Since Franklin is a remarkable man, someone will write a biography of him, so Franklin should just continue to write his own; 2) Franklin's portrayal of America as a land of opportunity will interest people in coming to settle in America, in essence a kind of advertisement; 3) His life is an effective comment on the manners and situation of successful people and will serve as a model for future generations.

Franklin listens to the advice of his friends and decides to continue the narration.

Notes

After ten years, Franklin decides to finally write Part II of his story. His emphasis will change from personal achievement to character development and moral instruction; his tone will change from conversational to didactic and authoritative; and his style will become more formal and objective than friendly.

It is obvious that Franklin inserts the two letters from his friends to justify his motive in writing Part II for public reading.

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