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Civil Rights: Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

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Fifty years ago, the House of Representatives passed the final version of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 even after the 14th and 15th amendment was ratified. Yet a half century later, the world is still ravaged by racial turmoil with social injustice tugging at the feet of over seven billion people who inhabit the world today. While the nation’s government tries to embrace and promote equality, a racial divide still prospers as most American’s mindset remains unchanged. An idea in which Vince Brewton in "‘An Honour as Well as a Pleasure’: Dueling, Violence, and Race in Pudd’nhead Wilson" describes as “ontological reality of racial difference, a foundational difference entwined with the roots of American civilization” (Brewton). Thus one may inquire, what factors in life truly determines what type of person an individual may be that so strictly classifies them into black versus white? Interestingly enough, this is the precise question Mark Twain challenges in his novel, Pudd’nhead Wilson. The author brilliantly utilizes the idea of nature versus nurture in order to illustrate how being black or white in a society wholly capable of equality has absolutely no value; the only difference in racial oppression lies within the flawed idea of prejudice.
As the story unfolds, Twain examines the nature aspect of racial identity through the introduction of the two developing characters, Tom Driscoll and Valet de Chambre. The author is careful to note that the only differences between these two in the early stages of life are their racial backgrounds and specifically exemplifies this contrast by not forming their characters until after the switch. The two infants are noted over and over again for their likeness in appearance, yet drastically op...

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Twain, Mark. Pudd’nhead Wilson. New York: Bantam Classics, 1984. Print.
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