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Messages from Nature in Puddnhead Wilson by Michael R Allen Though scholars have primarily focused study of Puddnhead Wilson on the novels messages of race and identity Mark Twain wrote into it an examination of scientific values versus natural values Much of the book concerns itself with the title characters methods of detection and in the character of Puddnhead Wilson the reader finds a strong critique of scientific positivism In the employment of natural scenery for certain human action mans misuse of nature is criticized Likewise the conclusion of the novel also focuses on social manipulation of natural processes with a pessimistic conclusion Puddnhead Wilson rejects the interference of social construction and scientific interpretation in mans experience with nature David Puddnhead Wilson is the symbol of science in all its shortcomings and excesses The narrators attitude toward Wilson is not truculent but it does highlight the aspects of this protanganist that are highly unflattering The reader knows Wilson to possess Scotch patience and pluck 27 and he is able to solve the murder of York Driscoll Yet his scientific experiments are often of dubious value and his detective skill is impaired by a remakable blindness Porter 163 to Tom and Roxanas scheme He is first introduced as a bit of a dilletante He had a rich abundance of idle time but it never hung heavy on his hands for he interested himself in every new thing that was born into the universe of ideas 27 His interests in what he sees as science are pet fads 27 which both the townspeople of Dawsons Landing and our narrator view with skepticism In fact most of Wilsons science is little more than simple observation of natural facts such as fingerprints and palms Twains narration doubts if he found anything 28 in examining the fingerprint records Wilsons records are key to exposing the identity switch that underlies the plot but their keeper is not certain what
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