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lawpudd'nhead - Sean Hughes.001 Law in Pudd'nhead Wilson...

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Sean Hughes 112-68-1910 Spring 08 2413.001 Law in Pudd’nhead Wilson Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson contains two tales, the sums of which arguably constitute “comic tragedy” (Railton 2002). The first story narrates events surrounding the protagonist’s life before the Civil War. In Dawson’s Landing, a village nestled between St. Louis and the mighty Mississippi, a fair-skinned slave nanny, Roxy (owned by Judge Driscoll’s brother), switches at birth Judge Driscoll’s nephew, Tom, with her own enslaved boy, Chambers. The shorter appendage, Those Extraordinary Twins , continues the saga after the plot concludes in Pudd’nhead Wilson by examining the fate of Angelo and Luigi Capello, foreigners involved in the main story who become ensnared as principal suspects in Judge Driscoll’s murder trial. The novel is an excellent literary devise to compare and contrast themes recurring in judicial process, law and society, or criminal justice issues. Although critics have debated whether the separate stories are best considered as a unitary essay (O’Connell 2002), or whether Pudd’nhead Wilson is Twain’s most insightful exposition on slavery or racism (Spangler 1970) in conjunction with the ill-effect of public opinion (Coburn 1970), arguably the first chronicle is the most coherent story with the best potential for application in legal matters. The case of Plessy Vs. Ferguson in 1890 was a very major indication that, despite the abolition of slavery, African Americans were still not treated the same as white people. Homer Adolph Plessy was born as a free man in Louisiana in 1862. Plessy had both Caucasian and African family ancestors. Just looking at Plessy’s appearance and not at his family history you would find him to be a 100% Caucasian male but he was really
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1/8 African American and 7/8 Caucasian. Plessy was a shoemaker—just another hard working American. In June 1892 Plessy bought a first class ticket on a train out of Louisiana and sat down in a “White Only” section of the train. When a train employee noticed that he was sitting there he asked Plessy to leave his seat. Plessy refused to move out of his seat and was later arrested for violating the segregation law of 1890. In May of 1896 the judge rendered the statement “separate but equal” to show where black and white people would stand. This policy remained in place until 1954 when it was overturned in the Brown Vs. The Board of Education ruling. The “separate but equal” ruling was greatly supportive of Jim Crow laws and would hold the black race down for another 50 plus years. Around the time in which he was writing Pudd’nhead Wilson Mark Twain became very interested in these cases and others like them and would soon write things pertaining to the percentages of race in America.
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