Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pudd'nhead Wilson Thoughts

Mark Twain seems to have a style of writing that is simplistic and blunt, yet, interesting. He brings interesting thoughts and ironic facts to life that most authors avoid for need of sounding too "common." Ultimately, I find Twain's writing, whether it be Pudd'nhead Wilson or Roughin' It, to be a style that keeps the reader interested and evokes an interest for more.

I liked Pudd'nhead Wilson right from the start. Twain's plot line, which seems to somewhat parallel a mystery, has a type of irony that can be seen right from the start; the idea of two children switching places, one white and one an African American slave, makes for a great narrative. Yet, what I most enjoyed about this book was the "calendar phrases" at the beginning of each chapter. My favorite, "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry," kept my mind substantially interested. While each of us has heard the phrase, "live like you were dying," Twain uses his amazing writing capabilities and irony to add an extra spin to it, hinting that we should live so greatly that even the Devil himself will be sad to see it. This phrase, amongst the many others in the book, add new dimensions to the book that could not otherwise be made, and allow your mind to "nibble" on a single thought or idea further immersing oneself in the story line. Brilliant!

Overall, I thought this book brought to light the vast differences in treatment between the Caucasians and African Americans previous to modern days. Whites were extremely privileged and completely spoiled, while African Americans were treated as animals or property with no real human qualities or important place in the world. Although racial issues seem to be a significant part of Twain's plot, he also seems to be suggesting that no matter what color, size, or heritage you are from, the treatment you receive growing up will serve as a foundation for who you will be in the future. Chambers, disguised as Tom, became a man of poor character and ignorance, while Tom, disguised as Chambers, was given nothing and, though a slave, carried an excellent sense of being and character. It seems Twain may be suggesting that you are the product of your surroundings, and should be more weary of what kind of life you choose to lead and who you choose to allow in it; it may very well determine who you are.


  1. Chelsea, I think you're the first person to comment on those extracts from Pudd'nhead Wilson's calendar. They are really funny but also give us a lot to think about, and, as you say, they add new dimensions to the book.

  2. I find it interesting that people question if Mark Twain was a racist, yet as you say racial issues are a significant part of the plot in Pudd'nhead Wilson. After reading this novel I don't see how Twain's beliefs could be questioned because it's evident to me that Twain believes all men are created equal and as you say it is largely "the treatment you receive growing up" that will determine who a person is.

  3. I definitely agree with your assessment of Twain's writing. I have always greatly enjoyed it and have failed to find anything by him that I don't deem captivating. I also really enjoyed the exerts from the calender. They definitely kept you thinking.
    Amanda Renslow

  4. I also enjoyed this boook and this was due to the fashion in which twain presented the book. He filled the book with satire of certain topics and jabbed at people which made the book more interesting to read. This book was a good book to make you think about what he was saying
    Charles Buescher