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A Psychoanalytic Critique of American Gods

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by

Savannah Buist

on 2 May 2014

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Transcript of A Psychoanalytic Critique of American Gods

American Gods
FROM THE STANDPOINT OF SOMEONE WHO CARES WAY TOO MUCH
(Like a crazy cat lady except all love is manifested towards this novel)

A Presentation by Savannah Buist
CHARACTERS
Shadow
Protagonist of the story
"Shady" and mysterious
Often described to look as "half black" or "half Native American"
Keeps his promises
Known for his loyalty
Mr. Wednesday (Odin)
A tall, thin man
Wears an eyepatch
Loses his temper easily
Hires Shadow to be his bodyguard
Laura Moon
Dies in a car accident
Kind of like a zombie, except...not
Brought to "life" by a magic coin thrown on her grave
Calls Shadow "puppy" (affectionate pet name)
Describes her half life as following Shadow who appears as a "light" in the darkness
Plot
Shadow starts out as an ex-con preparing to leave jail
His wife Laura dies just as he gets out
Having nothing left to lose and nothing left to live for, he is hired by the mysterious and evasive Mr. Wednesday to be a bodyguard
After a bar fight with Mad Sweeney (an Americanized leprechaun, because Neil Gaiman), Shadow wins respect and a gold coin
He throws the coin into Laura's casket, which creates a maintained bond between them and traps her between life and death
Shadow protects Wednesday from the gods that are killing off other gods
EXPOSITION
Psychoanalysis
Laura
presence as half dead/half alive is a metaphor for how Shadow hasn't let go of her memory
Death/Life
Death and life are considered one and the same
Heavily influenced by Egyptian mythology
Death leads to different paths in which your sins are measured and lead to an untrollable fate or a choice
Reverse birth (for the love of god don't make me talk about this)
Existence/The Unconscious Mind
The idea that new developments in technology and material items are worshiped, creating new gods
The idea that things only exist when we recognize their existence
Thus the gods having real social status/power when believed in
Other gods crave bloodshed, chaos, and war and become the antagonists
What Is He Trying To Say?
Neil has a couple of points with this theory.
a.) A common concept is that people are controlled by what they believe in.
i.e. Technology is a deity, and gods rule over humans
b.) Life and death have always been speculated over when really they could just be a variety of options.
i.e. The Afterlife features concepts of Egyptian mythology, but also allows there to be an endless wandering through nothing
c.) When people no longer believe in something as a strong unbroken collective, it ceases to exist in the minds of public and then ceases to exist.
i.e. The Gods are much less powerful than they were originally when people believed in them
d.) Therefore, the paradox of the relationship between gods and humans is a bit like the American government that we are already under
i.e. The government is "in charge," but is really in control of the people as stated in the Constitution
This is why it is called American Gods
e.) Clinging onto the memories of a traumatic experience (such as the death of a loved one) can cause literal malfunctions of the human brain as it enters the five stages of grief.
Would I Read It Again?
I would read this book ten thousand times over, and I'm going to.
It contains every critical theory that we've ever been over.
Go read the book right now.
Thank You For Your Attention
Please enjoy this picture of Darth Vader in an epic battle with Indiana Jones
Full transcript