Superstition In Huck Finn Essay

1225 words - 5 pages

Superstitious Times

Some say that superstition is an impractical way of looking at life but the characters in Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn beg to differ. Examples of superstition are abundant throughout the novel. Allowing characters in a novel to have superstitions makes their lives more realistic and the reading more enjoyable. Huck and Jim’s superstitions cause them grief, help them get through, and sometimes get them into trouble in their lengthy runaway journey. Although both of these characters tend to be quite rational, they quickly become irrational when anything remotely superstitious happens to them. Superstition plays a dual role: it shows that Huck and Jim are child-like in spite of their otherwise extremely mature characters. Second, it serves to foreshadow the plot at several key junctions. For example, spilling salt leads to Pa returning for Huck, and later Jim gets bitten by a rattlesnake after Huck touches a snakeskin with his hands. Superstitions let the reader feel more connected with the characters in the novel and give the characters more of a human persona that makes the novel incredibly pleasurable. “Critics argue that superstition is not based on reason, but instead springs from religious feelings that are misdirected or unenlightened, which leads in some cases to rigor in religious opinions or practice, and in other cases to belief in extraordinary events or in charms, omens, and prognostications. Many superstitions can be prompted by misunderstandings of causality or statistics” (Haun). Superstitions take the place of reason, where no other explanation is possible. The explanation that is ultimately accepted is one that’s based on one’s own experiences and travels.
In the first chapter, Huck sees a spider crawling up his shoulder, so he flicks it off into the flame of a candle. Before he could get it out, it was already shriveled up. Huck needed no one to tell him that it was a bad sign and would give him bad luck. This whole event scared Huck so he shook his clothes off, and turned in his tracks three times. He then tied a lock of his hair with a thread to keep the witches away. "You do that when you've lost a horseshoe that you've found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep of bad luck when you'd killed a spider"(5). This was all too much for Huck so he sat down, pulled out his pipe, and had a smoke to cool himself down. To make matters worse, as soon as he relaxed he heard something creaking around. He listened closely “me-yow! me-yow!”(6), this was, sure enough Tom’s call to him. Huck jumps down to meet his friend. This superstition gives the reader a first insight to Huck. The superstition is somewhat childish and belief in the reality of witches shows that Huck has a long way to go before maturation.
In the fourth chapter Huck sees Pap's footprints in the snow. So Huck goes to Jim to ask him why Pap is there. Jim gets a...

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