In his novel Puddn’head Wilson, Mark Twain uses racist speech and ideology to examine slavery’s consequences and make a plea for the elevation of the black race. Roxana, the true protagonist and an obviously sympathetic character, appears to be a white supremacist. This is a logical contradiction. It is one of many contradictions that lend the book its complexity and make it challenging to interpret. Roxana has a dual nature in more ways than one. She is smart yet always loses. She is committed to her own survival while being filled with self-loathing. She is free and relishes her freedom, yet can be bought and sold at any time.


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