Roughing It Characters

Roughing It Character List

Orion Clemens

Orion is the brother of Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, remember. The opening sentence explains the significance of the author’s brother as a character: “My brother had just been appointed Secretary of Nevada Territory—an office of such majesty that it concentrated in itself the duties and dignities of Treasurer, Comptroller, Secretary of State, and Acting Governor in the Governor’s absence.” In fact, Orion Clemens was the only Secretary the Nevada Territory ever had.


The narrative perspective of is first person singular and it is taken as a given that Twain is relating an autobiographical account. Nevertheless, the narrator is not directly referred to as the author Mark Twain and even Orion Clemens is only referred to—as in the opening sentence—as the narrator’s brother.

Brigham Young

While much of Roughing It mingles fiction and fact to put it mildly, an extensive section provides a history of the Mormons. While this history is relatively straightforward, the profile of Brigham Young’s rise to prominence in the wake of founder Joseph Smith’s death is filled with irony and Twain’s sardonic humor while yet maintaining its position within the overall text as the most “historical” aspect of this genre-bending work.

Scotty Briggs

Friend of the narrator whom he refers to as the only stalwart rough from Virginia to ever convert to religion. Scotty is the star of a section dealing with his position as a Sunday school teacher, but is more notable for a satirical discussion in which Scotty’s rough-hewn patois is in conflict with the formal vernacular of a pastor.

Captain Ned Blakely

Capt. Blakely is another “stalwart” but not a rough like Briggs .Instead, he is a ship’s captain described as a “warm-hearted, eagle-eyed veteran, who had been a sailor nearly fifty years.” He has a very dramatic showdown with a definite rough who is not so stalwart named Bill Noakes. The story is a dazzling little mystery that certainly seems to be one of the book’s examples of veering away from history and into the realm of pure fiction. Until one learns that Captain Ned is actually based on the quite historical figure of Captain Edgar Wakeman.

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