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Superstistion, a word that is often used to explain bad luck, misfortune, the super natural, and the world that is
not known. In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, superstion playe an important role
that resurfaces several times throughout the book. A belief that a hair ball can tell the future, a loaf of bread
containing quicksilver can point out a dead carcass, and touching a snake skin with bare hands will give you the
worst bad luck, are all examples of some of the superstitons found in the book.
“Miss Watson’s nigger, Jim, had a hairball as big as your fist, which had been took out of the fourth stomach of
an ox, and he used to do magic with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it and it knowed everything.” This
quote, taken from chapter four of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a great example of how superstitius the
people of the time were. The hairball’s signifigance to the novel is seen in both the characters of Jim and Huck.
Jim is an uneducated slave who does not have much knowledge. He is very ignorant and is easy to beleive things
things. Not only does his beleif that this hairball has magic spirits, he is also fooled by Huck many times during the
novel. You would think because of him being an uneducated slave, and Huck being the white boy who has had
some schooling, that their beleifs in this superstitous hairball would differ. This is not true as seen when Huck is
the one that comes to Jim for the powers of the Hairball. Huck wanted to know what his father, Pap, was going to
do. Huck had found out earlier that Pap was back in Town. Both Huck and Jim are very superstisoius as most of the
people were then. There was not a lot of the modern technologies that we have today to prove many superstitions
false. The hairball really does not tell Huck anything that he really already did not know. It only told him that his
father did not know what to do. It only told him general things such as, you are going to get hurt ,but then you will
get better. This episode with the hairball shows that even though Huck has some sort of an education, he and Jim
may be more similar than either one would admit.
Another superstition that most all of the people then beleived had to do with a loaf of bread and some
quicksilver. “I only had a bite to eat. Well, then I happened to think how they always put quicksilver in loaves of
bread and float them off, beacuse they always go right to the drownded carcass.” Luckkily for this superstition a
loaf of bread happened to float right by him, and he had breakfast. Since the bread did in dead float to him, mabey
the old belief had some truth in it. After all, he was really supposed to be dead and the bread did seek him out. This
episode furth illustrated the point that most all of the people were superstitous. The whole town beleived the loaves
would find the body. Again, they had no way of knowing why it would work or why it would not. If you put enough
loaves of bread out there, one of them is bound to find a cracass somewhere. Huck finding the bread really helped
move the novel along. If he had not been able to get the bread to eat, he might have left the shore in seek of food. If
this had happened there would never have been a seen where he sees all of town on the steambote seearching for
his dead body. A fianl point to this episode it the widow and here parying. During most of the book, Huck did not
beleive praying did much of anyhting at all. After all, he had prayed for many things in the past and never got
them. This time he though mabey there accually wa soemthing to the praying of the widow. “I says, now I reckon
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Picaresque novels, English-language films, Huckleberry Finn, Readers Digest, United Artists films, Huckleberry no Bken, Bread, Huck, Hairball, Big River
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