Superstition in Huckleberry Finn

Last Updated: 03 Mar 2020
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Superstition If you step on a crack, you will break your mamma back, keep cats away from babies because they suck the breath of the child, and cross my heart and hope to die, cut my throat if I tell a lie are examples of some superstitions that people believe in. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, superstition is a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim and Huck use and believe in many superstitions.

There are many examples from the book that show this in the characters. Most of the superstitions are ridiculous, but some actually make a little sense. In the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, one of the main themes he uses in this book is superstition and two main characters that have attitudes that are different and similar towards superstition is Huck and Jim. Huck at the beginning of the story wasn’t superstitious at all. He thought Jim was crazy for being superstition. Huck weakly believes in superstition but later in the story his views changes.

Huck killed a rattlesnake and placed it on the foot of Jim blanket, Jim see the dead rattlesnake with his mater and told Huck that this was bad luck. Huck later says "I made up mmind I wouldn't ever take a-holt of a snake-skin again with my hands, now that I see what had come of it”(pg53); this mean that he do not really know all the superstitious things because he placed the dead rattlesnake at the foot of Jim’s blanket, just joking around, and he found out what happens as the effect of the joke.

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During this time Huck become a firm believer in superstition. Huck helps his friend Tom use superstition to help Jim escape by telling Jim’s keeper, Nat, who believes witches are haunting him, that the only cure is to bake a witch pie and give it to Jim. In the witch pie there were things that were going to help Jim escape. Next Jim views about superstition are different than Huck. Unlike Huck, he is a very superstitious man and used it for almost everything in life. He also does not joke around with superstition, unlike Huck.

Jim uses superstition to fill the things he didn’t learn or understood in life. Jim uses superstition for a sign for all things that happen in nature. One example of this is, "Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and lighting. Jim said it was a sign that it was going to rain”(pg45). Jim looks at the birds and can tell that it is going to rain. Since there were no weather devices in the eighteen hundreds, signs like these were used to predict the weather.

Jim view superstition by his faith by thinking the hairball is a magic spirit. Superstition kind of motivates him to escape to freedom because he found out that he was going to be sold for a high price because he believes if your chest is hairy you are worth a lot of money; which encourages him to escape his owner, Ms. Watson. Although Huck and Jim have different views on superstition, they also have views that are the same. They both do things that would stop the superstition from bringing bad luck.

For example during the rattlesnake episode, Jim tells Huck to chop off the snake's head, then skin the body of the snake and put it around his wrist, so he would not be cursed. They become irrational when anything remotely superstitious happens to them. They also think when something bad happens to them it is the effect of the superstitious act that they did. In conclusion, in Mark Twain's novel, “The Adventures Huckleberry Finn”, he uses superstition to show many points. Mark Twain uses superstition to show contrast between an organized, Christian religion and believing in and superstitions and one's own beliefs.

As Huckleberry Finn and Jim are hurled back and forth between these two different faiths, the reader gets a keen idea of the beliefs and lifestyles people followed living in this story. He uses it to serves foreshadow the plot at several key junctions. For example, spilling salt leads to Pa returning for Huck. Overall, superstition is used in “The Adventures Huckleberry Finn” as a way to share Mark Twain's own opinion on religion and refined living with his readers and help them to understand the good and bad of both ways of living.

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Superstition in Huckleberry Finn. (2018, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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