Nature vs. Nurture

Nature vs. Nurture

            Nature vs. Nurture has been an issue in many books that have been made. One of these books is Pudd’nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain. In this book, there is a character that is named Roxy. She has a child named Chambers and also takes care of another baby named Tom Driscoll. Roxy is 1/16 black but looks white, Chambers is 1/32 black but looks white as well, they are both slaves. Tom is white and not a slave. During one part in the book Roxy is afraid of her child being sold down the river so she decides to switch Tom and Chambers so her real child will get a better future. The two boys grow up without knowing they were switched at birth. Tom is greedy and only cares about himself while Chambers is the opposite of Tom.

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Tom grows up and starts gambling and stealing and gets into more problems when the twins arrive. More into the story Tom gets into problems and makes decisions to do things in the town to get himself out of trouble. Later on in the book Roxy decides to tell Tom the truth about whom he is and Tom looks at his life differently than what he did before. All these decisions made by Tom are examples that relate to the theme of Nature vs. Nurture in the book. Nature vs. Nurture is a factor in that it decides what an individual will become. Some examples of this are when Roxy, and Judge Driscoll had some responses about why Tom did what he did.

            First of all, in the beginning of the book we see that Roxy changes Tom and Chambers. We know who is who in the story but the people in the town don’t know. Once Roxy changes Tom and Chambers they become different than what they were supposed to be. An example of this is in a quote on page 19 it said, “ Tom got all the petting, Chambers got none. Tom got all the delicacies, Chambers got mush and milk…Tom was “fractious” and overbearing; Chambers was meek and docile.” This is because of the Nurture vs. Nature factor. Chambers, who was supposed to be white, grew up black and was a slave. He was not greedy and treated everyone else with respect. He got the worst food and had the worst clothes. This is because of how he grew up being black and a slave. Tom on the other hand was greedy and treated everyone without respect. He always got whatever he wanted and it was of because when Roxy switched him. They were both like this because of Nature vs. Nurture.

Second, towards the middle of the book Roxy decides to tell Tom who he really is. Things happen in the book, like the fight between Tom and Count Luigi, and different characters have opinions on why Tom does the things he does. For example after Tom gets into a fight with Count Luigi and does not want to duel with him, he goes to where Roxy is hiding. There she finds out that Tom does not want to duel with him and she has her opinion of why he doesn’t want to fight with him. On page 84 Roxy says, “ En you refuse’ to fight a man dat kicked you, ‘stid o’ jumpin’ at de chance!… Pah! It makes me sick! It’s de nigger in you, dat’s what it is. Thirty-one parts o’ you is white, en on’y one part nigger, en dat po’ little one part is yo’ soul.” This quote made by Roxy shows why she thinks Tom did what he did. Roxy blames the “nigger” blood in Tom’s body and says that that’s why he refused to duel with him. This shows the Nature vs. Nurture factor and why she thinks he is that way.

Finally, Judge Driscoll also has his reasons of why Tom is the way he is.

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