Societal Norms In Pudd Nhead Wilson

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The story of Pudd’nhead Wilson is the story of societal norms determining the course of many lives. Roxy, one of the main characters, switches her child with her master 's child at birth. Her child grows up being a wealthy white while the master’s child grows up a poor black slave. Roxy starts her life as a slave and with all the mannerisms of a slave, but becomes free and takes control of her own destiny. Twain writes this in a time after slavery, but a time when African Americans were still delegated to the lowest echelons of society, thought of as less intelligent and less refined than their white masters. Twain uses Roxy, Tom and Chambers to show how societal norms caused many members of society to feel that blacks belonged in a lower social…show more content…
In the book it is said that after Chambers’ true identity is revealed, “He could neither read nor write… his manners were the manners of a slave”(Twain 166). As Chambers was growing up, he was neither offered, nor sought an education, or to learn proper manners. Even after he, and the rest of society learns who he truly is he is unable to overcome the damage done to him over the course of his life. This shows how the racial stigma of the time not only prevented blacks from seeking their own freedom, but prevented them from having the knowledge to interface with the society they had to change.“The poor fellow could not endure the terrors of the white man 's parlor”(Twain 166) writes Twain. As he has never been well educated, never learned what were considered proper manners, and has been brought up as a slave, he cannot “kick” the feeling that he belongs where blacks are thought by him to belong, the kitchen. This lack of education kept blacks from feeling at ease in social settings with whites. The lack of interaction in such settings slowed blacks attainment of equality by preventing meaningful interaction and made it look as if the blacks were naturally unable to learn the ways of refined society. Twain’s depiction of Chambers at the end of the book shows us
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