Pudd Nhead Wilson Essay: The Arbitrary Nature Of Race

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The Arbitrary Nature of Race
America in the 1800’s was an inherently racist place. There is no question that the treatment of the races was drastically different during that time. The unfortunate abundance of morally controversial topics regarding race and slavery paved the way for many influential American novelists. Mark Twain is among such novelists who offered unrefined views about these complex societal issues in many of his novels. Specifically, Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson takes an objective and satirical stance on slavery and racial issues and denotes the hypocrisy of both. Though Pudd’nhead Wilson does not deeply explore the hardships of slavery, it clearly investigates the society's artificially constructed view of racial distinctions
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The identity of the boys is revealed and the real Tom claims the inheritance left by his late uncle. Nevertheless, real Tom is rejected by both the white and black communities. “The poor fellow could not endure the terrors of the white man’s parlor, and felt at home and at peace nowhere but in the kitchen. The family pew was a misery to him, yet he could nevermore enter into the solacing refuge of the “nigger gallery” --that was closed to him for good and all,” (Twain 166). The white society of Dawson’s Landing disdain anything or anyone having to do with African Americans. They do not care that real Tom is 100% white or that he is the son and nephew of very well respected individuals. Their already perceived identity of him predates and overshadows the truth. Additionally, fake Tom quite literally gets away with murder for being slightly black. It is argued that if the babies were never switched at birth, Tom would have grown up a slave and sold down the river, consequently never killing Judge Driscoll. The pardoning of Tom illustrates how all people with even the smallest, unnoticable amount of black in them are seen as property. Twain states in the novel that if Tom were completely white “it would be unquestionably right to punish him,” (Twain 166). Tom was only left unpunished because it would be a waste to lock away a valuable
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