Puddn'head Wilson by Mark Twain

Essay by Barlow21High School, 11th gradeA+, March 2002

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In 1894, Mark Twain had a story published, called Pudd'nhead Wilson. It's a story about a small, Mississippi town, where a slave named Roxy switches her baby with her master's baby. Pudd'nhead is actually very intelligent, but people are so judgmental, when he makes a comment about something that no one else understands, they automatically assume he is dumb. One of Pudd'nhead's hobbies is collecting fingerprints, and he has managed to collect the prints of the entire town. No one else realizes the babies are switched, but Pudd'nhead, and when the time is right he lets everyone else know too. Twain was a realist because he showed some of the characteristics of realism in his works such as, humans begin as a blank slate whose reality is shaped by experience, and he, like other realistic writers, concentrate on specific regions of the county and their custom, social status, dialect, and types of humor.

In Pudd'nhead Wilson, Twain shows that humans begin as blank slates whose realities are shaped by their experiences. "She undressed Thomas á Becket, stripping him of everything, and put the tow-linen shirt on him. She put his coral necklace on her own child's neck" (36). This shows how equal the babies really were, even though one baby was technically "black," and how they were easily interchangeable, and no one noticed. Their lives were picked for them when they were born, but no one could tell them apart, so they both could have lead totally different lives. "That was reason enough for a mother to love a child; so she loved him, and told him so. It made him wince, secretly - for she was a 'nigger.' That he was one himself was far from reconciling him to that despised race" (123). This proves how different...