The superstitions that ensue in the novel exist to protect Huck and Jim. The occurrence of a distressing spider superstition provides warning to Huck. Huck listens to the sounds from the woods because he is unable to fall asleep while “a spider went crawling up his shoulder, and he flipped it off and it lit in the candle . . . that was an awful bad sign and would fetch him some bad luck.” (Twain 6) The evident misfortune affiliated with the spider superstition ultimately warns and protects Huck from an impending misery. Huck realizes his desire for protection, especially from Pap. A salt superstition a few days later intensifies Pap’s imminent recurrence. One morning Huck “happened to turn over the salt-cellar at breakfast” he then “reaches for some of it to throw over his left shoulder and keep off the bad luck.” (Twain 19-20) The dreadful superstition escalates the approaching misfortune of Pap’s reappearance, which ultimately heightens Huck’s desperate need for protection, and allows Huck to be one-step ahead of Pap. Furthermore, an ominous bird superstition enables Jim to prepare for a calamity. As Huck finds food, he notices “some young birds flying a yard or two a time”, Jim asserts, “it was a sign it was going to rain and said it was death.” (53-54) Jim’s superior knowledge of superstitions prevents Huck from killing a bird, which is presumably an adversity, and ultimately pro...
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...when he decides not to talk about the situation and think of another plan instead. This skill becomes extremely valuable to Huck because of the decisive decisions Huck must make throughout the novel. Although Huck believes the snakeskin is good luck in the beginning, the continuous misfortune and instability ultimately permit Huck to grow morally, from committing childish behaviors to becoming decisive and mature.
Mark Twain’s emphasized superstition seeks to provide protection, hope, and moral growth for the underclass. Superstition ultimately replaces religion and becomes the main belief of the novel’s underclass. Humans ultimately follow their beliefs in order to become more successful, acquire protection, and avoid conflicts in life.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1884. Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell, 1997. Print.
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