Puddn Head Wilson Humor Analysis

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In the classic novel Puddn 'head Wilson, Mark Twain balances humor with some serious subject matter while weaving an involved tale concerning a slave who replaces her master 's child with her own son. Roxana, a slave belonging to the brother of the eminent Judge Driscoll, replaces his son Tom with her nearly identical son, Chambers. Although no one notices for many years, the truth is discovered by “Puddn 'head” Wilson, an underestimated scholar, and is eventually revealed when Roxana 's “Tom” commits a crime. In this novel, Mark Twain criticizes the shallowness of racism and addresses deception and its consequences while utilizing humor to lighten the story. In the beginning of the book, it is explained that Roxana, although only one-sixteenth …show more content…
For example, Puddn 'head Wilson receives his nickname because the people of the town could not comprehend his humor or wit when he first arrived, and thought him a fool instead. As time goes by they learn to respect him, but he is always thought of as an eccentric individual because of his uncommon scholarly habits and interests, such as his habit of recording the fingerprints of every person he comes across. At the time of the trial for the murder of Judge Driscoll, everyone pities him and doubts him because he is defending the prime suspects, and they think it impossible for him to win the case. However he ultimately surprises everyone and himself when he figures out the mystery surrounding Tom and Chambers. Twain also uses irony to make the story more interesting and enjoyable to the reader. The treatment of the swapped children is ironic in that no one knows that they have been switched, and therefore treat “Tom” as if he were the heir. “Tom got all the petting, Chambers got none. Tom got all the delicacies, Chambers got mush and milk...” (pg 41) A slave and the son of the master had been switched and no one was any the wiser. Equally as ironic is “Tom” 's view of slaves before he finds out he is actually the son of Roxana. He treats his companion, Chambers, horridly, not knowing that Chambers is actually the true heir. Tom has no respect for any of the slaves, much less for Roxana when she returns to the house to ask him for one dollar: “A dollar!—give you a dollar! I 've a notion to strangle you! Is that your errand here? Clear out!” (pg 65) At this time Tom is completely ignorant of the fact that he, too, was technically born a slave, and would later be subject to the same treatment: “As soon as the Governor understood the case, he pardoned Tom at once, and the creditors sold him down the river” (pg 168). Eventually Tom faces the fate his

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