Testing Superstitions


Humanities-English


There are some ideas in life that need to be tested to achieve their full meaning and splendor. Superstitions are found in all different cultures and are widely accepted and among the believers, they are respected. Most people will not take any thought into interpreting these notions, and will therefore gain no sense of the superstition. However, others will see these as an opportunity to test their faith and chose to either reject certain fallacies or accept the Absolute Truths. In Huckleberry Finn, superstitions are thrown at the characters left and right, and only the most curious will take each into consideration. Huck Finn is told what to believe from the start, but he realizes that some of the things that work for others in his life may not apply to him. Huck is challenged to determine which superstitions lead to Truth and which he should rejected as falsehoods.


The literal superstitions such as the ones that Jim strongly believes in and often preaches to Huck are mostly viewed as absurd by our jaded, modern culture. In the early 19th century, society forced lies upon Jim and many other slaves. Because the runaway was so influential to the young boy, it was sometimes hard for Huck to see past these untruths. “I’ve always reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of the carelessest and foolishest things a body can do.” Huck had no reason not to believe these meaningless superstitions, but he still thought about each and every one to determine what was right for him. He saw Old Hank Bunker look at the new moon over his left shoulder, and then he died, so in Huck Finn’s eyes, there must have been some truth in that superstition on top of the fact that his friend Jim believed it to be true.


Huck Finn also finds some truth in religion although for the most part he believes it to be unreal. The widow and Miss Watson tell him to embrace prayer without applying it to his life first and seeing how it can be beneficial to him. He does decide to question faith when nothing comes of his prayers. When Huck is told conflicting stories, he decides that there are actually two gods. “I judged I could see that there was two Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the widow’s Providence, but if Miss Watson’s got him there warn’t no help for him anymore.” He knows that religion exists, but he doesn’t think that he belongs to either god. Huck thinks that he is too ignorant for any superior being to want him, so he does not allow himself to become attached to anything that cannot be justified by his senses.


Huck makes decisions based on what he sees and what works in his personal situations. He focuses more on tangible realities and rejects all that doesn’t fit into his sometimes skewed, naďve sense of the world. “Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots; but I didn’t believe that, because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn’t sting me.” When Jim gives him an idea to ponder, he immediately tries to figure out the truth by his past experiences. Huck does not take well to superstition or religion for that matter because he is so curious and thoughtful. When he finds a loaf of bread when he is starving, Huck explains it by deciding someone who cares about him prayed for his good fortune. “So there ain’t no doubt but there is something in that thing. That is, there’s something in it when a body like the widow or the parson prays, but it don’t work for me, and I reckon it don’t work for just the right kind.” The young boy recognizes only the concrete superstitions and disregards everything that requires faith and knowledge of a world outside of his box.


When faced with undefined truths, Huck must figure out what will be of use to his life and what will stop him from savoring life. Huckleberry Finn is full of fallacies, but also Absolute Truths. Only the most inquisitive of people are able to determine where the boundary lies between the physical