Pudd’nhead Wilson

A Character Analysis of Tom Driscoll
In Puddnhead Wilson by Mark Twain, the story of two boys, who were switched at early childhood, is told. One of these boys, Tom Driscoll, displays many characteristics in the novel. Tom shows how he is rude and a liar, but he also exhibits his ability to change his ways.

From his childhood to his later years, it was evident that Tom Driscoll was a rude character. For example, during his childhood, Tom and Chambers (the boy with whom Tom was switched with and who was also Toms slave) always went an “played” together. On such instance was when they went swimming with Toms friends and were diving off of canoes. Chambers was an excellent diver, however, Tom could not dive for it gave him splitting headaches. And for this reason (Chambers could do something that Tom could not do), Tom pushed the canoe under Chambers as he was in a mid-air dive. The result was that Chambers was unconscious and Toms spirit was gratified. Later on, when they were about fifteen, the boys were swimming in the river as usual, Tom fell ill to a cramp in the water and Chambers saved his life. Instead of being grateful to Chambers and thanking him, Tom said that “anybody but a blockheaded nigger would have known he was funning and left him Tom alone” (23). Furthermore, after Tom had gone to college (Yale) and returned back to Dawsons Landing, he still carried this trait. This was evident when he was having a conversation with Puddnhead Wilson. At the time, Mr. Wilson was hosting guests, two of which were from out-of-town. Regardless of the obvious company, Tom kept his rude manor and made fun of Wilsons law career. Although it was true that Puddnhead Wilsons law career was all but successful, Tom had no right to embarrass him so, especially in front of guests.

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Not only was Tom Driscoll rude in the way he carried himself, but he was also a liar. This characteristic manifested itself when Tom tried to get people on “his side.” Such an instance was when there was news of multiple thefts happening in Dawsons Landing, specifically, a knife that belonged to the twins from out-of-town. The real thief was Driscoll, but he convinced the town constable Jim Blake that the knife did not exist, and even if it did exist, the twins were hiding it in order to receive attention. In gaining Blake on his side, Driscoll was also able to make Puddnhead Wilson question his trust in the twins. Furthermore, Tom Driscoll lied to his uncle in order to win his praise. He told his uncle that one of the twins, Count Luigi, was a “confessed assassin” (97). By doing so, Tom was now a good man in hi uncles eyes (for Tom had been considered a coward for not dueling with Luigi), however, this put Luigis life in jeopardy.

Although Tom Driscoll had many evil traits, he was able to change his views and actions. However, this was limited only to the stimuli that he deemed important or that touched him deeply. A major event that changed his view on African-American slaves was when Roxana (his biological mother) told him that she was his mother. This was apparent when Tom stated “And why is this awful difference made between white and black?How hard the niggers fate seems, this morning! -yet until last night such a thought never entered my head.” (53). This also affected his daily actions. For example, when greeting a person, his arm hung limp “instead of involuntarily extending the hand for a shake” for it was the “nigger” in him that caused him to do so (54). Moreover, Tom Driscoll was able to put his gambling habit on hold until he deemed fit. This was necessary because he was in debt and his uncle disinherited him from his will. Tom Driscoll stated ” Ill never touch another card again. Anyway, I wont while he his uncle lives, I make an oath to that.” (75).
Tom Driscoll lived a life of sin, from lying to stealing. However, one can see that he is able to change, but it takes quite an incentive or something so strong as to “wake up a sort of echo in his conscience” in order to do so (45).


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