Pudd’nhead Wilson The book, Puddnhead Wilson, seems like a modern day soap opera. It has one main theme with other stories and subplots that revolve around it.
With all these stories, Mark Twain must of had many influences to help him write this wonderful book. Before we begin to discuss that, let me give you a little background on his book. Contrary to the title Puddnhead Wilson, the main character, to me, seems to be Roxanas son Valet de Chambers/Tom Driscoll. Why the reason for the two names? Well, let me explain.
Roxy is 1/16 part black, but that still makes here black and a slave. She belonged to Percy Driscoll, who had son named Tom. Tom was born around the same time that Roxys son, Chambers, was. Both boys looked remarkably alike, since Chambers is only 1/32 part black, he too looked like white boy. So, in order to save her baby boy from getting sent down the river, she switches the two babies. It seems almost like the twinned, but unrelated story of the Prince and the Pauper (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/wilson/mttw ins.html).
Most of the story revolves around Roxys son, Tom/Chambers, but there are some other subplots mixed in with their tale. Another plot that you would read, would be about the extraordinary twins. These Italian twins, Luigi and Angelo Capello, come to Dawsons Landing to rent a room from old Widow Cooper. The whole town quickly becomes infatuated with their stories of royalty and far away places. While reading, one cant help to wonder if these twins are lying about their lavish lives to the naive towns people. The actual story of Puddnhead Wilson himself is and interesting one.
His real name before the dubbed him Puddnhead Wilson is David Wilson. Hes a young lawyer, who just moved into the small town. On his first day there, he made a comment to a couple of the locals that he would regret for many, many years to come. This is the same time when hed become known as Puddnhead Wilson.
Later in the story it shows how he finally over comes that nickname after many years of living with it by using his unusual finger print collection hes been keeping. In the book you will also read about a murder, a trial, and a prophecy. One may wonder where Mark Twains influences came from. Well, it all starts in his home town of Hannibal, Mississippi (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/wilson/pwho mpg.html). In many of his books he models the town off of where he grew up and this is also true for the village of Dawsons Landing in Puddnhead Wilson.
Even though he moved the village a couple hundred miles down the Mississippi, you still see influences from his childhood. Before Twain ever thought of writing Puddnhead Wilson, he first wrote Those Extraordinary Twins. After he finished writing Those Extraordinary Twins, he wrote a letter to Fred Hall, in which he said, “I begin, today, to entirely re-cast and re-write the first two-thirds — new plan, with two minor characters, made very prominent, one major character cropped out, and the Twins subordinated to a minor but not insignificant place. The minor character will now become the chiefest, and I will name the story after him — Puddnhead Wilson (http://marktwain.miningco.com/library/letters.bl letter921212).” At first, Puddnhead Wilson, was going to be a farce about Siamese twins (mttwins).
Instead, it turned out to be a story of irony of two almost identical babies switched at birth. One was white and the other was only 1/32 part black. That small fraction made Chambers a slave and doomed to a life of poverty, abuse, and fear of being sent down the river, even though he look exactly like a white person. Mark Twain originally had the book published under the name The Tragedy of Puddnhead Wilson and The Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins (pwhompg). It was first published in America on November 28, 1894 (pwhompg).Now, you can see the book as just Puddnhead Wilson.
Its funny how Mr. Twain calls it the tragedy of Puddnhead Wilson, when in the end he redeems himself and is seen as popular and prestigious. Wouldnt you consider that more of a success and not a tragedy?.