Theme Of Honor In The Tragedy Of Pudd Nhead Wilson

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Honor is the Hardest Master “On the whole, it is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them”(Twain, Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903). This quote from Mark Twain directly relates to the primary theme of honor in the novel The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, and the message that Twain is trying to get across about it. He is saying that honor is something that is deserved, but is not always recognized, and that most often people who think they deserve it do not. Honor is what helps us with our morals and helps us to distinguish good from bad. When people are without honor, most of the time without good morals and cannot tell right from wrong. Twain shows this theme about honor with irony and characterization, such as when Roxy switches her son…show more content…
His uncle insists on having a duel between Tom and Luigi for Tom to regain his honor after being kicked and going to court about it. Tom says to his uncle, “Oh, please, don’t ask me to do it, uncle! He is a murderous devil--I never could--I--I’m afraid of him!”(Twain, The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson 192). This quote shows that Tom is not an honorable man, that he would rather fight behind the law than man to man. The honor code in the South during this time period consisted of a three part system, “The code of honor for Southern men required having: 1) a reputation for honesty and integrity, 2) a reputation for martial courage and strength, 3) self-sufficiency and ‘mastery’”(McKay, “Honor in the American South” 2012). In refusing to fight the duel Tom broke rule number two of this honor system, and proved himself to be without honor. Tom does many things wrong, he gambles, goes into debt, steals, and murders his uncle. Twain shows that Tom is without honor and has him do many wrongs to convey his message that people that lack honor, often are the ones who do wrong in
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