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Pudd’nhead Wilson

By, Mark Twain

Published in 1894

‘Pudd’nhead Wilson” by Mark Twain is about a young slave woman named Roxanna. Roxanna switches her light skinned infant son with the masters white son. The master, Mr.Percy Northcumberland Driscoll, was a wealthy plantation owner who lived in a town called Dawsons Landing. On the first of Febuary 1830, two baby boys were born on his plantation, one to him and his wife, and one to his slave girl, Roxanna. A week after the birth of their son, Mrs.Driscoll died. This left Roxanna in charge of the children. Roxanna switched the infants because she wanted her son to live a better life than a slave would live.

These two children grew up with each other on the master’s plantation. While Roxanna’s son Tom was enjoying the fruits of being the master’s son, Chambers the master’s real son, was suffering through the many hardships of being a slave. When Tom and Chambers were little Tom would abuse Chambers and Roxanna. Tom would physically hurt Chambers by beating him up . He also would abuse Roxanna with racial insult and slurs. He did not know that she was his real mother. Tom grew up to be a spoiled, evil, and self obsessing person. This eventually led Tom to steal and commit murder. On the other hand Chambers grew up as a quiet and humble slave.

The book is named after a wise but eccentric lawyer named David Wilson,nicknamed Pudd’nhead. He collected peoples true autographs which are their fingerprints. David Wilson got his name Pudd’nhead from the towns people. He was known to be sort of odd, but intelligent. His hobby of collecting fingerprints provided important evidence in the murder trail. Wilson was the defending attorney for the wrongly accused murderers of Judge Driscoll, Luigi and Angelo Cappelo.

Luigi and Angelo Cappello come to town from Europe. Both were born in Italy and were twins. They obtained a valuable Indian knife whose sheath was made out of leather and had diamonds on it The knife was stolen from them and used in the murder of Judge Driscoll, who is Toms uncle. The twins were accused of the murder because Judge Dricoll was murdered with their knife that was stolen earlier. The bloody fingerprints on the knife turned out to be Tom Driscoll’s.

This was the main point of Puddn’heads defense. He used his collection of fingerprints of everyone who lived in Dawsons Landing to prove that the twins didn’t murder Judge Driscoll. Puddn’head was able to show that Tom actually killed his uncle in an effort to steal his money. Puddn’head also found out that two babies, Tom and Chambers, were switched at birth at the Driscoll’s house. Tom was found guilty of all charges but instead of having him spend his life in jail the court decided to sell him down south as a slave to help pay off his debts in St.Louis. Chambers was taken out of slavery and was made the plantation’s new master.

My interpretation of this book is that the enviroment that you grew up in has a big effect on you. The enviroment that Tom grew up in made him spoiled, selfish and evil. The enviroment that Chambers grew up in was much harder and so he had learned how to have respect for what you have and never to be greedy. Roxanna’s intentions may have been good , however the end result was horrible. The kind of person you are is determined by how you are raised and treated and how you apprecitate what you have.


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