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Pudd'nhead Wilson | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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Pudd'nhead Wilson | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • February 1, 1830

    Two baby boys are born in the household of Percy Driscoll.

    Chapter 1
  • July 1830

    Dave Wilson takes the first fingerprint samples of the two infants.

    Chapter 2
  • September 1830

    Slaves in the Driscoll household are accused of theft; all but Roxy confess.

    Chapter 2
  • September 1830

    Roxy switches the babies' clothes and cribs.

    Chapter 3
  • October 1, 1830

    Wilson takes another set of the babies' fingerprints.

    Chapter 3
  • Autumn 1845

    Percy Driscoll dies. Roxy is freed and the boys move in with Judge Driscoll.

    Chapter 4
  • 1850

    The Capello twins arrive in Dawson's Landing.

    Chapter 5
  • Sometime later

    Mrs. Cooper holds a reception for the twins.

    Chapter 6
  • Later

    Wilson notices a young girl dancing about in Tom Driscoll's room.

    Chapter 7
  • Later

    Roxy returns penniless from life as a steamboat chambermaid.

    Chapter 8
  • Later that night

    Roxy tells Tom he is actually a slave.

    Chapter 9
  • The following Friday

    Wilson reads Luigi Capello's palm and learns of the Indian knife.

    Chapter 11
  • That weekend

    Judge Driscoll learns Tom didn't fight a duel with Luigi.

    Chapter 12
  • Later

    Judge Driscoll duels with Luigi, but no one is injured.

    Chapter 14
  • Later that week

    Tom sells Roxy into slavery.

    Chapter 16
  • Autumn 1850

    Roxy escapes, returns, and demands that Tom buy her freedom.

    Chapter 18
  • Later

    Tom attempts to rob his uncle and kills him. The twins are accused of the crime.

    Chapter 19
  • Weeks later

    Wilson begins his defense of the twins and wins a delay in the trial.

    Chapter 20
  • Next day

    Wilson uses fingerprints to exonerate the twins and expose Tom as a murderer and an imposter.

    Chapter 21
  • Later

    Tom is pardoned, released into slavery, and sold down the river to pay off creditors.


Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
A Whisper to the Reader Mark Twain begins his story by noting it contains some legal elements, and he assures the reader he has had those chapte... Read More
Chapters 1–2 Each chapter begins with an aphorism (a wise or witty saying) from "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar." Chapter 1's quote s... Read More
Chapters 3–4 Chapter 3 opens with an aphorism thanking the biblical Adam for bringing "death into the world." Roxy spends the... Read More
Chapters 5–6 Chapter 5 opens with two of Puddn'head's aphorisms. The first says training is everything, while the second is about u... Read More
Chapters 7–8 Chapter 7's aphorism explains the difference between a cat and a lie: the cat "has only nine lives." Judge Drisc... Read More
Chapters 9–10 Chapter 9 begins with two aphorisms. The first says we "rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral ... because we are ... Read More
Chapters 11–12 Chapter 11 begins with two aphorisms. The first tells how to please an author; the second, the value of leaving out ad... Read More
Chapters 13–14 Chapter 13 opens with two aphorisms. One says knowing how many "disagreeable people" are in heaven makes a person want... Read More
Chapters 15–16 Chapter 15 opens with two aphorisms. The first says others should reform their habits. The second reworks an old prove... Read More
Chapters 17–18 Chapter 17 opens with two aphorisms. The first points out too much popularity can get on people's nerves. The second s... Read More
Chapters 19–20 Chapter 19 opens with an aphorism about how annoying a good example can be and a second one about how "a difference of... Read More
Chapter 21–Conclusion Chapter 21 opens with two aphorisms. The first says useless people belong underground, "inspiring the cabbages." The s... Read More
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