Pudd'nhead Wilson

Pudd'nhead Wilson Summary and Analysis of Conclusion



Following the trial, Wilson is held in even higher esteem than he had been after serving as Luigi's second in the duel. No longer considered a fool, his words and sentences were now considered "golden" and he "was a made man for good."

Having been cleared in the trial, Luigi and Angelo's reputations were restored and they were considered "heroes of romance." However, the Italian twins decided that they had had all they could handle of Western adventure, and thus leave the small town and settle in Europe.

The true heir continues to pay Roxy a pension of thirty five dollars a month, but she is too heartbroken, and money proves no remedy. She lost "the spirit in her eye" and the "voice of her laughter," and only finds solace in her church.

The true Thomas à Becket Driscoll now finds himself white, rich, and free. But his fate is not a happy one. Having grown up a slave, he is unable to read and write, and continues to speak with a slave dialect. Moreover, he has the manners of a slave, and is unable to feel at home in "the white man's parlour." He only feels comfortable in the slave gallery, but as a wealthy white citizen, that is no longer viable refuge for him.

Finally, we learn that the usurper has made a full confession and has been sentenced to life imprisonment. However, a problem arises. The creditors of Percy Driscoll's estate come forward and claim they are the victims of an injustice. When Percy Driscoll died, the debts from his failed land speculations were so large, and his estate in such miserable condition, that obligations could only be repaid at a rate of sixty percent. However, the creditors point out that through no fault of their own, 'Tom' was not included in the inventory of property that was available to settle Percy's debt. Had he been, not only would they have received a larger payment, but 'Tom' would never have been able to kill Judge Driscoll. Thus, because he is not white, and because it would wasteful to "shut up a valuable slave for life," the creditors argue that 'Tom' is their property and should be released to them. As soon as the Governor of Missouri is informed of this case, he promptly pardons 'Tom' and he is sold down the river.


Here, in this final section of the novel, Twain reveals the strongest support for "nurture" over "nature." Born wealthy, white, and free, and descended from the noble line of Virginia's First Families, the "nature" theory would suggest that the real Tom should be inherently comfortable in the white man's world. Upon receiving his fortune, he should have easily transitioned into his new lifestyle. However, as we see, this is simply not the case. Having been raised a slave, the true Tom knows no other way of life. His new surroundings and experiences are completely alien to him and he is unable to fit in. One might have suspected that being freed from his servitude and given riches would prove a happy experience for the real heir. But in reality, he would likely have been happier remaining a slave.

Throughout the novel, the usurper "Tom" expressed the view that slaves and African Americans are not actual people, but rather are mere property. Ironically, it is precisely this view of blacks that results in the impostor being sold down the river. As Twain notes, had Tom been white, he likely would have remained in jail. Though this certainly would not have been an ideal fate, it would likely be more tolerable than the alternative harsh labor on a Southern cotton plantation. Because Percy Driscoll's creditors view "Tom" not as a person, but as chattel, he is removed from his prison and sold to the highest bidder.