In Huckleberry Finn there are several themes. There are themes of racism and slavery, civilized society, survival, water imagery, and the one I will be discussing, superstition ( SparkNotes Editors). Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation (“Merriam-Webster”). Superstition was a very popular theme in Huckleberry Finn that you saw throughout the story. Huck was somewhat superstitious, but Jim speaks a wide range of superstition and folk tales.
In the story it makes Jim seem as if he is unintelligent, when really his superstitions and beliefs come true and shows he is a wise person. At first, Huck thinks Jim’s superstitions are foolish and silly, but he eventually starts to appreciate Jim’s outlook and knowledge on life. Jim’s superstition was accepted as social teachings as well as being the adult figure in Huck’s life (SparkNotes Editors). One of the first times I saw superstition in the story was Huck’s superstition of bad luck. “Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up.
I didn’t need anybody to tell me that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast everytime; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep witches away ( Twain 110). ” Another time Huck’s superstition of bad luck was shown in the story was when he accidentally spilled salt at breakfast. “One morning I happened to turn over the salt cellar at breakfast.
I reached for some of it as quick as I could, to throw over my left shoulder and keep off the bad luck, but Miss Watson was in the ahead of me, and crossed me off ( Twain 117). ” Because Huck was not able to throw the salt over his shoulder, he was very worried and nervous all day because he knew he would encounter bad luck sooner or later. The first time Huck went to get superstitious advice from Jim is when he went to ask Jim when his father would be returning in his life. He had already seen his father’s tracks in the snow and knew he would be coming real soon.
He wanted to know what his father was going to do and how long was he going to stay. Huck heard Jim had a hair ball that was taken out of a stomach of an ox, that he used to do magic with. The hair ball supposedly had a spirit in it that knew everything. The hair ball told Jim about Huck’s father and Jim told Huck, “ Yo’ ole father doan’ know, yit, what he’s a-gwyne to do.
Sometimes he spec he’ll go ‘way, en den agin he spec he’ll stay. De bes’ way is to res’ easy en let de ole man take his own way ( Twain 119). ” He then began to tell Huck his father had two angels over him. A white, shiny angel that tells him to do right and a dark angel that tells him to do wrong.
He told Huck that he also has two angels over him that does the same, and that nobody knows which one is going to get you in the end. This part of the story showed me Jim wasn’t as foolish and stupid as everybody thought he was, he was actually wise. That night when Huck returned home his father was waiting for him in his bedroom. Once Huck ran away to the island and found Jim ran away too and they discovered the dead man, who happened to be Huck’s father, Huck wanted to discuss the dead man but Jim warned him it was bad luck for them to talk about a dead man.
“ He said it would fetch bad luck; and besides, he said, he might come and ha’nt us; he said a man that warn’t buried was more likely to go a-ha’nting around than one that was planted and comfortable ( Twain 139). ” Huck thought Jim made sense and respected him enough not to bring it up again. Huck then brought up to Jim, when he found the snake-skin the other day, Jim said it was the worst bad luck to touch snake skin. Huck did not believe they would experience any bad luck because they had experienced so much good luck with finding the house with all the goods and money they came across.
Jim told him not to speak of it and he said the bad luck would still come, and it did come later that week. Huck decided to play a trick on Jim and put a dead rattlesnake in Jim’s blanket to scare him. When Jim laid down that night the snake’s mate was in his blanket and bit Jim on the heel. Jim was sick in bed for four days and Huck never told him he was the one who played the trick on him. He swore to himself he would never pick up a snake skin again, and Jim said to Huck maybe he would believe him next time and there might still be some bad luck to come.
The theme of superstition in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is related to hope and fear. Jim’s hope and fear was that he would finally be free and his fear was that he would be captured and forced back into slavery. Huck’s hope was that he would be able to live his life without having to be in fear of his father and also that he would not have to live a “sivilized” lifestyle with the widow and Miss Watson. Everybody has hope and fear about something, and deals with it differently.
Jim and Huck dealed with it by believing in superstition. Work Cited Page Twain, Mark. “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. ” The Norton Anthology American Literature. Seventh Ed. Vol. C. Nina Baym. New York: W. W. Norton & Comapny, Inc. , 2007. Print. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. ” SparkNotes. com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. “www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/superstition. ” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, 2011. Web. 5 Feb 2011.