What’s funny about Pudd’nhead?

Having read Pudd’nead Wilson twice now in two different Richards classes, it’s intriguing to note the differences in what was focused on in the text in the two classes. I felt that in American Humor we read Twain’s work as being the story of “Tom,” while in Southern Lit. I felt like we read the story as being Roxy’s. Truthfully, Twain tells the stories of both characters in almost equal measure. But, in each class we read the text with different preoccupations, so that the first time I read it, it seemed like Roxy was just a part of “Tom”‘s story, while the second time the opposite was just as true. I think the preoccupation with race and gender as a crucial elements to the regional identity of the South is what drew more focus to Roxy’s storyline in my second reading of the story. While these were large parts of what we focused on in American Humor as well, I think as others have pointed out that these two preoccupations wound up being given the majority of our attention in our studies of Southern Literature.

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