Friday, January 25, 2008

Twain: The Final Fishbowl

Today we will have our final fishbowl discussion of Pudd'nhead Wilson. Please try to break away from live blogging at least once to enter the inner circle (the water is just fine!).

Enjoy.

125 comments:

carley_benson said...

ok. start off, does anyone have any ideas to what Twains stance on slavery was?

maria k said...

Why do we think Twain named his novel after Pudd'nhead Wilson?

erinl said...

Guilt seems to be a theme in the book, who all do you think is guilty?

clewis said...

Hey I have a question:
Why is it called "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wison"?

juliab said...

Seeing as there are about 20 people on the inside of the circle, I will post my question here.

Here goes: What are some other "twins" in the novel, other than the obvious main characters? For example, my article mentioned that Roxy and Tom were "twins." What is Twain's purpose of "twinninn" characters?

christas said...

Carley-
I think that Twain opposed slavery and slaveholders,though he also thought that some slaveholders, like Judge Driscoll, were decent people.

carley_benson said...

clewis- because he was assumed to be an idiot the entire time.

carley_benson said...

clewis- because he was assumed to be an idiot the entire time.

carley_benson said...

clewis- because he was assumed to be an idiot the entire time.

erinl said...

Maria,
I think that it's really interesting that the book in named after Pudd'nhead Wilson and not Roxy or Tom. I wonder if Puddn'head Wilson is supposed to be each characters "twin"

jessie w said...

Based on what I read for the annotated bibliography, Twain named the book after Pudd'nead Wilson because of him being accepted into the community but not at the same time. He is appparently also a twin or something...I got confused.

juliab said...

Ha. Just realized that Sara just shared my question...

By the way, there was supposed to be a "g" in "twinning."
:)

jberry said...

I think that Twain didn't have an exact side. He was merely stating the truth and the wrongs of both the black and the white society.

Dev said...

Hey guys I thought the article by Linda Morris was really interesting because it said that Twain used clothing and language to describe blacks and whites in the story why do you think he does that??

clewis said...

Carley-
What do you mean and why did you post that 3 times?

carley_benson said...

erinl - roxy seems to be the true guilt holder to me.

Laine G said...

Did any one else see the extreme amount of irony in the fact that Roxy switched the babies to keep them from being sold down the river. In the end this is what her child did to show gratitude.

lauraf said...

I think Twains was trying to show the effects of power through its abuse in slavery and satirize how the 19th century culture was so focused on power.

christas said...

Who do you think Twain is trying to portray as the villains in the story? The slaves or the slaveholders?

carley_benson said...

maria k - because the name used to be "the tradgy of pudden head wilson and those amazing twins" so he had to shorten it

Dev said...

carley i think that the twin were not really opposed to slavery but they also had slaves themselves although they were only mentioned once.

kaytlinr said...

Carley-
I think that Twain disagreed with slavery, however he wouldn't directly admit it in his writing due to the time period he lived in.

juliab said...

Did anyone else think that Pudd'nhead Wilson's character represented what the reader was thinking?

Of course, that wouldn't be relevant to the arguments during the Civil War, but it is for what we think today.

Hmmm...

maria k said...

Erin--ooh thats interesting, I didn't think about relating it to the double imaging theme. I was thinking that maybe Twain was satirizing first impressions; everyone thought Wilson was a fool, but in the end he solved everything.

carley_benson said...

laine g - yeh it turned out funny that way. it shows the irony of destiny and kind of what you sow is what you get type o deal

jessie w said...

Do you think this truly was a tragedy? Why did he call it that in the first place?

JoshB901 said...

Clewis- I think that the novel was originally called "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson" because the story revolves around the ignorance of humanity and one of the important scene is the naming of Pudd'nhead Wilson and how ignorant the people were of others opinion.

Rachel L said...

Dev~ I just realized that at the end of the book, Tom ended up getting sold down the river anyway. I wonder if this is supposed to add a dark humor to his story...

maddyg said...

I'm interested in Twain's stance on slavery, too. Its sort of hard because he's so satirical. I almost think he has the feeling that like he isn't going to say anything about what he thinks of slavery. He's just going to sit back and watch the rest of human kind sort it out in their childish ways. Almost like he's too good to argue with everyone else or they aren't worthy enough to hear his opinions.

carley_benson said...

dev - ? im still confused on twains stance on slavery

emilya said...

christas... I think he was trying to make the slaveholders seem like the villains because they made the slaves do extreme things to get out of their miseries.

Damian L. said...

I believe that Twain named it Pudd'nhead Wilson because one it sounds much better than Roxy or Tom and this is overall the story of a man's redemption, through the meeting of the twins.

carley_benson said...

jberry - answered gracias

christas said...

Jesse-
I think that in a way it was tragic because all of Roxy's good intentions for her child came to nothing and caused so much chaos and pain, but at the same time, it wasn't a tragedy because Tom got what was coming to him.

carley_benson said...

i like dev

he always answers my questions.

i hate blogging, it drives my ocd add tendencies nuts

saram said...

Carley-
that's a good point going back to the two seperate stories. He had a book called those amazing twins and then maybe he just smushed them together and gave them only one of the stories names.

kaytlinr said...

Dev- I know exactly which article you are talking about! I think that Twain added this as almost a hidden rebellion to slavery.

clewis said...

Dev-
I read that article too and that really does show a character back then. Isn't that true about society today?

maddyg said...

Do you think guilt is worth it when you make a choice like Roxy did? Is the better life she was going to give Tom worth that life of guilt?

Dev said...

Carley well I think that the twin don't really care. I think that they just accepted the fact that there is slavery. I think that is just what everyone in the south did. They kind of just said that slavery was a way of life and that is also why I think it was so hard to get rid of it later on

maria k said...

Julia--Yes! I agree with you, as the reader, I could relate a lot to Wilson. I think that maybe Twain wrote Wilson to represent himself. Like him, we (the readers) were new to the town, and were figuring things out as we went. Maybe even Twain didn't know how to write the ending, he probably just decided as he went along.

carley_benson said...

new question :)



 What was the overll moral of this story? What do you think twains purpose for writing this was? What did he accomplish




dev?
saram?

saram said...

Maddy-
I don't think a life full of guilt would be worth it. I would rather have a happy life without something like that hanging over my head.

juliab said...

I think that Twain wrote this book to show people to what extent slavery cripples the slave. However, I haven't yet decided whether he thought that slaves should remain in slavery so they could survive because that is all they have ever known, or not.

carley_benson said...

i think he wrote it cuz he was bored.

idk.

maddyg said...

Do you guys think fate is real? If it is, can you change it?

maria k said...

Maddy--I think guilt means that we did something we know is wrong. I know Roxy was trying to help Tom, but look at poor Chambers. In the end, even when he was free, he couldn't live a normal life because he as so set as a slave. So living with guilt is not a good thing because it means you didn't do the right thing.

christas said...

Maddy-
Now that I know how the story ends,I would say that the life of guilt was not worth it. Nt only did Roxy destroy the real Tom's life, but she also turned her own child into a spoiled brat who had no compassion for others. Now Roxy must deal with the guilt AND her selfish child.

clewis said...

I definately agree with Maddy on that; I would not want to live with that guilt over my head.

jberry said...

sara---
but what if you knew that your guilt was worth it...? What if you knew by your suffering, you were being beneficial to your society's future?


self vs. everyone else

jberry said...

sara---
but what if you knew that your guilt was worth it...? What if you knew by your suffering, you were being beneficial to your society's future?


self vs. everyone else

carley_benson said...

i think everyone has a destiny




but everyday based on your own decsions it changes

Rachel L said...

I think the moral of this story was to show how different twins really can be. Tom and Chambers could be considered "twins" because they looked so similar, and yet one ended up murdering a man and the other suddenly became a wealthy air. Perhaps he's trying to tell us not to fall to stereotypes.

saram said...

Carley-
that's a good question. I really have no idea what his motive was for writing this story. I don't know what a possible moral could be either. Don't switch children when they're babies? Aren't morals a little more in depth than that?

Damian L. said...

I just have a revelation/ question, it being, the greatest harm can come from the best intentions. So my question is is this always true? Can the greatest harm come from another source?

carley_benson said...

maddy g



read my las comment

clewis said...

Jack Sparrow!!!!!!!!

erinl said...

Maddy,
I think that Roxy chose wrongly, in that the life of guilt that she ended up living wasn't worth causing the trouble that she did. The real Chambers ended up living a life that he wasn't entitled to, and the real Tom suffered and was neglected by his “mother”. I don’t think that anyone really gained from Roxy switching the boys.

Lara McDougald said...

Kristin made an interesting point: You can't always rely on science. I think that you can relate this back to Social darwinism. Do you think Twain agrees with social darwinism.

jessie w said...

So are we now comparing Pudd'nhead to Jack Sparrow? lol

Dev said...

clewis yea I never really thought about how in our society we classify people in to social classes on what clothes they wear. I guess it is just one of those things that has carried down though the centuries.

carley_benson said...

damian - the best intentions are usually warped to benifit a specific person that is close to the person performin the act




that make sense to ya?

Hannah S said...

Twain had many morals throughout the story. I believe that the main moral was that first impressions are not always correct. However there are more subtle morals throughout the novel. For example, at the beginning of the novel Roxy switchs the babies to prevent the born Chambers down the river. The switched Chambers never gets sent down the river. Chambers would never have been sent down the river if Roxy would never have initially switched them. The moral in that selfish motives often backfire.

jberry said...

damien---
what is the greatest harm?

carley_benson said...

hannah s



thanx for the answer finnialy

juliab said...

Also, I think that Twain wrote the novel in a satirical way to show people how foolish and delusional their "prideful" society is. Twain's thoughts on society are still true today.

christas said...

Damian-
I agree with your comment, but I don't think that the greatest harm always comes from the best intentions. I think that often people who intentionally try to wreak havoc create the most harm. Tom was trying to create chaos and mystery so that he would not be recognized as a thief and a black, and ended up murdering his uncle and hurting others in the society, like the twins.

maddyg said...

Carley, I agree with you about fate, but what do you think Twain thought? Do you think Roxy's plan ever had a chance of succeeding, or was it bound to fail?

carley_benson said...

whwre the heck did jack sparrow come from?



will is better



elizabeth is a tramp tho.
what she needs to have both?
ugh.

maria k said...

Lara--I actually thought Twain was more of a creationist. In "The Damned Human Race," he said that there was no way we could have evolved from animals because the human race is too horrible. Also, in a lot of the Pudd'nhead Calendar quotes, he referenced Adam and Eve and the apple.

clewis said...

Another question:

Society goes along with the majority like how sheep will always stay with the herd.
Where does this relate in PW?

kaytlinr said...

Maddy-
I don't think that fate can happen. It's the choices that you make that affect your furture.However, if you let things happen the way that they were supposed to be then I guess that could be considered fate. A fate that you obviously couldn't control.

Laine G said...

I think it was called the "tragedy" of PHW because it is a tragedy because how his one intelligent comment gave him a bad nickname for life. It mocks how people have such closed minds that a first impression can affect what people think of you for the rest of your life. It is mocking how the people of the time viewed blacks, with out ever giving them a second chance or getting to know them they passed off blacks as what society said they were.

Damian L. said...

The greatest harm can be death of the flesh to a mortal wound to our soul.

carley_benson said...

maddy g



it was always bound to fail as soon as she statred worshipping her child as her supperior

jberry said...

I agree with christa


People who intervene where they aren't supposed to; create havoc.

maria k said...

Carly--Jack relates to Wilson and Twain. He makes it all up as he goes along and it all works out in the end.

clewis said...

Carley-
I beg to differ!

Jack Sparrow (Johnny) is MUCH hotter, althoguh I like Will too.

Anyways...

maria k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jessie w said...

Um, let's not start a debate about who is hotter...focus guys.

It doesn't matter, what matters is the comparison between Pudd'nhead Wilson and Jack Sparrow

carley_benson said...

clewis-

he is hotter.


but he'd nvr b very dependable.

hes a hit an leave type o guy

Hannah S said...

New Question:

Does Twain believe in nature or nurture?

lauraf said...

clewis...good question because I really think that that is so true in PW. This comes through a lot when Twain brings up how everybody agrees on everything and follows along. It was very apparant when PW comes to the town and no one accepts him because no one gives him a chance. Also when Tom murders the judge and the entire society still believes it's the twins.

carley_benson said...

so pudden head wilson makes it up as he oes?


what?

carley_benson said...

hannah s-


obviously nuture

tom spoiled so bad

chambers white but raised so humble

carley_benson said...

hannah s-


obviously nuture

tom spoiled so bad

chambers white but raised so humble

maria k said...

Carley--Wilson had no idea what he was doing with the fingerprints, but he know he had some purpose. Also, he figured it all out in a kind of ironic way, thanks to Tom.

clewis said...

Hannah S-
I think he believes in nuture; if someone is treated bad or grows up spoiled they will be spoiled throughout the rest of their life.
Although they can be good at heart and they could have been born that way.

Dev said...

kaytlinr i disagree with you about fate. I think that the choices you make are already what fate has planned out for you.

emilya said...

hannahs...good question! Twain believes in nurture I think. The way Tom and Chambers were brought up is only because of the way they were nutured and who their parents were. Tom got spoiled from living with the white...he wouldnt have acted spoiled if he was a slave.

Laine G said...

I think that Twain never mentions Chambers for a very specific reason. It is to show how the people society think of as the slaves are totally ignored. Twain fails to mention the life of Chambers because none of the white folks of the time would have cared much for him. Historically the story of him probably would not have known much about the life of a mere slave.

maria k said...

Hannah--Nature for sure. A lot of the criticism I read said that Twain was telling us that human nature is influenced by society and ends up negative as we become adults.

carley_benson said...

maria


when did it say he ddint kno what he was doing with finger[rints!


yeh he did

maddyg said...

I think personally that nurture is more important. Nature and circumstance does have an effect, but it can only go so far. Tom's lack of true love is what made him such an evil person, but the fellowship you have with other slaves as a slave I have to imagine would create love and Chambers is therefore better.

clewis said...

Exactly dev; I believe that there is a purpose for eveyone on Earth and it laid down like a fork in the road; we can take the road of our fate, or we could decide to go against it.
Although I think that, like for instance, you would meet your future love, but maybe at a different time or place and it might not be the same; see what I mean?

christas said...

Do you think that any of us can get away from our past deeds? In Pudd'nhead Wilson, every time Tom or Roxy thought they were safe from discovery, they were found out and their deeds exposed. Do you think that any deed goes unpunished or without any consequences?

sweta said...

I read an article and it focused on the clothing aspect of the society.
It said that clothes were your identity in this novel because Tom and Chambers looked exactly alike when they were babies and only their clothes were diffrent.
What do you guys think about that?

jberry said...

Maddy---
i disagree.
i think that we are who we are and nurturing might be able to supress us for a while; but our true personality and true characteristics will come out sooner or later.

carley_benson said...

christas

um. depends on what you belive

im a strong supporter of karma

erinl said...

Carly,

I think that Pudd'nhead Wilson was keeping records of the finger prints just because he wanted to. He liked analyzing the prints, but other than that didn't have a true purpose.

lauraf said...

Additionally Sweta...how does Tom's disguise as a woman add into your question of identity/way of dress?

Tina L said...

Hannah-

Through this whole book, I was trying to figure out where Twain stood on this, and where I stood. I'm still not sure, but I think that Twain is at least trying to make a point about nurture here, because he devotes a couple paragraphs to the differences between the way Tom and Chambers were rasised.

However, at the same time I get the feeling that Tom would have been awful even if he had not been switched.
I just don't think Twain believed it, because I think that if he did say that nature won, he would also be making a statement about race, and we don't ever get a conclusion on that one.

Tina L said...

Hannah-

Through this whole book, I was trying to figure out where Twain stood on this, and where I stood. I'm still not sure, but I think that Twain is at least trying to make a point about nurture here, because he devotes a couple paragraphs to the differences between the way Tom and Chambers were rasised.

However, at the same time I get the feeling that Tom would have been awful even if he had not been switched.
I just don't think Twain believed it, because I think that if he did say that nature won, he would also be making a statement about race, and we don't ever get a conclusion on that one.

clewis said...

Sweta-
We dicussed that a tiny bit at the top, but again the clothing does mean eveything in society, even in today's society.

Lara McDougald said...

I read an article that said when there is a change of clothing it also represents a change in power. Does anyone else agree?

sweta said...

Also, going back to the whole Nature Vs Nurture, I believe that our backgrounds and what we have been throught may affect who we are but we are responsible for who we become.

jberry said...

sweta---
I read that article too. It was really interesting, and i think that that was Twain's way of satarizing society's blocked perception. That they werer too wrapped up in their appearance vs. someone's actions.

carley_benson said...

lara


um.
no.
do you?

i belive a change in clothing signifies you smell


but on a deeper level

your changing an attitude




i suppose it could represent a change in how people percieve you, which can be manipulated into a form of power

clewis said...

Nuture vs. nature-
Anyone can be changed, they just need to decide to change for themselves.

sweta said...

lauraf-I think the clothes act as a fake attire that hide who you are througout this novel.
Because of the clothes, the identity of Tom and Chamber were false and Tom used clothes as disguise to steal.
So I think the purpose of clothes in the novel is to hide your true self and wear of mask of fake identity.

Tina L said...

LARA-

okay I've been waiting for an opportunity to bring up my theory. So there are a lot of instances in this novel of Twain (satirizing, I think) the importance of appearance.

take a look on page 67, about the firemen "they never stirred officially in unofficial costume"

what do you guys think about that?

sweta said...

Jberry-I agree. So all clothes does is hide who you truly are.

christas said...

Lara-
I think that clothing is an important factor, because it is a status symbol. And clothing really does give power. This might sound lame, but when you get a new outfit or piece of clothing that you really like, you feel more confident and better about yourself. Clothing is what people judge you by, because it is their first look at you. Clothing also might reflect your personality and character to others.

Hannah S said...

do clothes hide who you really are, or do they bring out another side of your character?

jberry said...

tina---
like i said to sweta, I think that it is interesting how Twain's little hints and mysteries lied behind the clothes,and the appearance.

So, what does that mean? Is Twain being condesending to his society, or is he just stating another truth...?

saram said...

I agree with Christa. Clothing is someone's real first impression. I know that I always feel better when I'm wearing new clothes. So I think it is definitely a status symbol to show how much money you have and high up in society you are.

jberry said...

Hannah---
I don't think that clothes hide your personality, it's just Twain's way to portray the skewed appearance.

erinl said...

Christa,
Agree with you, that clothing can define who a person is. However; when you look at Pudd'nhead Wilson, Chambers was dress as a wealthy white person when he was supposed to be a slave. I think that clothing can also be a disguise.

clewis said...

Very true christa-
In today's society a cheerleader will get more dates than the tuba player...no offense to any tuba players:)

sweta said...

HannahS-I think clothes bring out the part in you that you want people to see; but that is not who you truly are.

endsleye said...

Maria, I think that Twain named his novel Pudd'nhead Wilson because even though he was barely in the book, he determined the outcome of Tom and Chambers and the whole end of the novel. He turned out to be a very important character.

endsleye said...

I actually don't have any idea why it was called "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson". The only reason his life is tradgic is at the beginning when he was first named Pudd'nhead. After that I dont see any other reason why his life would be tradgic.

endsleye said...

Laine, yes I did notice that. She switched the babies to make sure that he wouldn't get sold down the river but in the end, thats exactly what happened to him.

endsleye said...

Maddy,
yes I believe that fate is real. I am also sure that you are able to change it. But I think you change it unintentnionally with the things you do from day to day. I don't think you can say you are going to change it and do so.

endsleye said...

clewis,
I think that the town went along together in emotion. When the twins first arrived everyone was excited to see them. Everyone liked them too. But then when someone thought they were making up the whole story about the knife, everyone believed that one person and started not to like them.