How would you describe the citizens of Dawson's Landing in Pudd'nhead Wilson?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dawson's Landing, a fictional town in Missouri along the Mississippi River, is, as Twain describes it, a sleepy place. Its people are also sleepy and content, and they don't change much. Therefore, when Pudd'nhead (or David) Wilson comes to town and one of his comments is misunderstood, the people of the town immediately characterize him as stupid, though he is really just able to think more freely than the rest of the townspeople. 

The people of Dawson's Landing also have all the prejudices of a typical slave-owning southern town. Roxy looks like a white woman (and is one-sixteenth white), but because anyone with a drop of black blood is considered black, she must live as a slave. Her son, Valet de Chambre (called "Chambers") is raised as a white man after she switches him with a white baby. Her son, now living as Tom Driscoll, develops all the prejudices and actions of a slave-owning white man. In fact, he even decides to sell his own mother to slave owners (after she has been freed) to clear his gambling debts. The fact that the town falls for Roxy's trick and does not discover until many years later, using the fingerprints that Pudd'nhead Wilson has collected, that Tom and Chambers have been switched, means that they are gullible and susceptible to society's prejudices.