Thursday, March 4, 2010

Twain's Use of Humor

Twain uses comedy for many different reasons. He can hide behind his comedy when talking about issues that are new and society is not ready to hear. He wrote Puddn’head Wilson as a sort of mystery that has a real issue to talk about. He begs the reader to ask what makes race? He shows that genetics cannot because “Chambers” finds out that he is white and rich but cannot function as the rich white people he see’s around him. Twain also uses comedy to keep the reader interested. He uses comic relief through puddn’head being misunderstood or similar situations for nothing more than to entertain the reader. But there is a deeper satirical comedy that the reader can see as well. Like the irony that we see from Roxy going to extreme lengths just so she can keep her son from being sold down the river. She contemplates suicide and murder! It is unreal how far she is willing to go just to escape the loss of her son in the form of being sold down the river. As it turns out Chambers being “Tom” takes her son from the beginning. She is never really able to get that relationship that mothers want. And to wrap it all up Twain sends Chambers down the river anyway, a worse fate then spending life in prison is getting sent down to the mean slave owners down the river. The deep irony makes you smile as you think about it. Roxy was willing to watch her child grow from the window instead of take part as long as she could have, “Chambers” is never sold down the river, and then when all unravels her miserable son gets sent down the river. It is hilarious in a sick sort of way. As long as it doesn’t happen to you, you can sit on the outside and smile.


  1. It really is a very dark form of humor, isn't it? You have to appreciate the irony of the ending, but we also can't help but cringe at all it; all this trouble just to arrive at the ending that Roxy had started the trouble just to avoid.

  2. I agree with you and with Fawn, Dane: the humor is very funny but also really dark.