Thursday, October 13, 2011
Pudd'nhead Wilson challenges the idea of classes and race in concerns with treatment and places in society. "Tom" is believed to be a rich, white man from an old Virginia family, so he is treated as royalty. "Chambers" is believed to be a black slave and is treated us such by the townspeople. Both are stuck in these roles until the end of the book, but even after the switch is revealed the men do not return to the social spheres upheld by the town. As mentioned in class, they become lost in between both worlds, the privileged and the slave. This lack of social placement leads the characters to be treated differently than they would have normally been treated. Would "Tom" have been sentenced to life in prison if he had always been considered a slave? A slave at that time would have been lynched for killing his master, but "Tom" is spared. In being spared, he is still being treated as a noble might and given a chance at life. It might also be because he was a commodity not worth killing without making a profit. Either way, if he were being treated by his class, the ending would not have happened as such. The same can be said about "Chamber"'s ending, which was sad and unfair. He was given what was due to him in concerns with property and title, but was still seen as an outcast among the other townsfolk and he couldn't bring himself to live as a master would. If he were treated as "Tom" was, he would not be living in the kitchen, even if it was his choice, and the townsfolk would make an effort to know him. The ending seems realistic in the idea of money and greed ruling the world, but unrealistic on how some of the characters ended up.