- Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, The - Version 2
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It was published in 1893–1894 by Century Magazine in seven installments, and is a detective story with some racial themes. The plot of this novel is a detective story, in which a series of identities — the judge's murderer, Tom, Chambers — must be sorted out. This structure highlights the problem of identity and one's ability to determine one's own identity. Broader issues of identity are the central ideas of this novel.
Twain's multiple plots and thrown-together style do serve to inform a central set of issues, with the twins, Pudd'nhead, and Tom and Chambers all serving as variations on a theme. The themes are slavery, tradition, and nature vs. nurture. To a lesser extent, Southern society and first impressions are also touched upon, and the novel is one of the first to use fingerprints as a means of unique identification, as it was not until 1897 that the world's first Fingerprint Bureau opened in Calcutta.
One of Twain's major goals in this book was to exploit the true nature of Racism at that period. Twain used comic relief as a way to divulge his theme. The purpose of a comic relief is to address his or her opinion in a less serious way, yet persuade the reader into thinking the writers thoughts. Twain's use of satire is visible throughtout the book. Twain's use of colloquialism(dialect) and local color as features of Naturalism to convey his theme, is impressive and ahead for his time.