Book Review: Pudd’nhead Wilson

September 21, 2010

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.

puddnheadA friend of mine said Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson was a good book, so I picked it up at the library book sale, probably for ten cents. It’s the story of two babies who look remarkably alike even though one is a slave and one is his master. Their caretaker (and one of the baby’s mother), a slave, switches the babies’ places so that her son cannot be sold down the river. Her son is then raised as Tom Driscoll and the white baby is raised as Valet de Chambre. The title character, Pudd’nhead Wilson, is the only other person besides Roxana who holds the key to their true identities.

Oh, Mark Twain, you do wear the hat of cleverness! I cannot tell you which part is my favorite, but, ultimately, what I loved is that this is the story of nature vs. nurture and that the white man’s story doesn’t matter. Like, everything is about Tom and his mom and their effects on the town. And then when the opportunity to tell Valet’s story, Twain is basically like, “Eh, who cares?”

****draws sparkly hearts around the story and Mark Twain****

I just wonder how many people get that. I mean, he so emphasizes that Tom is rotten because of the way he is raised and that Valet is insignificant/ineffectual/unable to engage with white society because of the way he is raised. It has nothing to do with their actual races and everything to do with the access to privilege they have.

Mark Twain! I less than three you.  All the way.

POC Challenge: 17/15

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