Pudd'nhead Wilson

by: Mark Twain

Chapters 8 - 10

Summary Chapters 8 - 10

Roxy's loss in the bank failure is equally difficult to understand. Clearly she has done the "right" things in trying to provide for herself, but she has nevertheless lost out. Her ruin is not set up as a punishment for switching the babies years earlier; rather it is the first step in a series of unravelings of what have appeared to be safely determined identities. Her ruin leads directly to "Tom" becoming aware of his true race and parentage. This in turn causes "Tom" to question everything he knows. He immediately begins acting as he has been taught, as a white man, that a black man should act. After a few days of this, though, he realizes that whether or not he is a black man, assuming Roxy cooperates, may depend only on whether he chooses to call himself one. He reverts not to the role of young scion of a prominent white family but to an identity derived from his own behavior: after assuming a series of disguises, he becomes a thief. It is appropriate that he and Roxy continue to meet in the "haunted house": the structure is a building that cannot escape its unwarranted reputation, yet as soon as Roxy and "Tom" begin to use it the house becomes in fact haunted, by the two of them and their secret. The place's reputation has been self-fulfilling. Will "Tom"'s realization of his racial identity lead to the fulfillment of a stereotype? And, if so, whose stereotype?