Jim and Superstition

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    Just wanted to add another thought to our conversation about whether Jim’s superstitions make him look foolish. This is a quote from the PBS series “Slavery and the Making of America”:

    In fact, even blacks who embraced Christianity in America did not completely abandon Old World religion. Instead, they engaged in syncretism, blending Christian influences with traditional African rites and beliefs.

    Symbols and objects, such as crosses, were conflated with charms carried by Africans to ward off evil spirits. Christ was interpreted as a healer similar to the priests of Africa. In the New World, fusions of African spirituality and Christianity led to distinct new practices among slave populations, including voodoo or vodun in Haiti and Spanish Louisiana.


    So, far from being foolish, Jim’s superstition was his way to hold onto the “religious beliefs and rituals of [his] African ancestors”. I think. Maybe.

    Also, Huck is shown to be pretty superstitious himself. And the Christianity of the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson is shown to have its “foolish” elements as well.

    Anyway, interesting idea in class yesterday about how maybe Jim knows more than he is letting on when he stretches his story about his hat and the witches, and when his fortune-telling hair-ball won’t talk without Huck’s coughing up some money. If true, Jim has more in common with the conmen (the Duke and King who plague Huck and Jim from chapter 19 through 31) than I would have guessed.


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