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The Role and Significance of Religion and Superstition in Huck Finn

For Honors English 11
by

Katie Campbell

on 18 December 2012

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Transcript of The Role and Significance of Religion and Superstition in Huck Finn

The Role and Significance of Religion and Superstition in Huck Finn By Katie Campbell and Cassie Freshwater Thesis The theme of religion versus superstition is very prevalent in Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. By making this theme prevalent, Twain is trying to show us that society, as symbolized by religion in the novel, poses itself as a threat to Huck and that getting away from society, as symbolized by superstition in the novel, can protect Huck. How Twain Makes Religion a Symbol of What Society Approves of Us Being, KC and CF Huck's Relationship with Superstition, KC Religion symbolizes what society approves of us being in the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is because when someone is religious, they believe someone (God) watches over you. Huck never sees this someone that is supposed to be watching over him and instead he fends for himself. Therefore, Huck sees religion as useless. However, the sophisticated part of society surrounding Huck is religious and wants him to be too. The End Thank you! Pg 12, 2nd Paragraph "After supper (the widow) got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in dead people." KC This quote shows that Huck is interested in Moses, who is part of religion, until he finds out that Moses has been dead for a long time. Then Huck does not care anymore because he is more concerned with his own current situation rather than what happened thousands of years ago. This shows how Huck does not appreciate religion and does not respect the significance of Moses. It also shows that he is more concerned with things that can directly influence or help him rather than things that he can see no personal advantage in. Pg 20, Bottom of 1st Paragraph "Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it." KC This quote shows that Huck tries praying, which is a part of religion, and he does not see the use in it because he is not getting what he is asking for. Therefore, Huck gives up on praying and thus a part of religion because he does not understand it.
This quote also shows that Miss Watson, who is one part of the sophisticated society surrounding Huck, wants Huck to be religious because she tells him to pray. Pg 20, Bottom of Page "No, says I to myself, there ain't nothing in (praying). I went and told the widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was 'spiritual gifts.' This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant...I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no advantage about it-except for the other people; so at last I reckoned I wouldn't worry about it any more, but just let it go." KC This quote shows that Huck sees no use for praying, which is a part of religion, and he does not understand it. He mainly comes to this conclusion because he cannot see any personal advantages coming out of praying and Huck is primarily concerned about himself and his own well-being, which is a product of having to fend for himself for so many years. Pg 22, Top of Page "It warn't anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer class at that. We busted it up, and chased the children up the hollow..." KC This quote shows that Huck, as well as the rest of the members of Tom Sawyer's gang, do not respect nor attend Sunday-school. This is a part of religion that Huck does not respect nor practice. Pg 13, Bottom of Page "Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder...I didn't need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep witches away." KC and CF This quote shows that Huck believes that a spider crawling up his shoulder is a bad sign and brings bad luck so he performs rituals to try to keep the bad luck and the witches away. Pg 24, Middle of Page "One morning I happened to turn over the saltcellar 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." KC This quote shows Huck observing a ritual to keep bad luck away. This also shows that Huck naturally wants to do this when he spills any salt. Pg 96, Bottom of Page "Anybody that don't believe yet that it's foolishness to handle a snakeskin, after all that that snakeskin business done for us, will believe it now if they read on and see what more it done for us." CF This quote shows Huck believes that the superstitious belief that if you handle a snakeskin bad luck will come is true because he believes that it is causing he and Jim all of the problems that they are having. Pg 58, Middle of Page "After breakfast I wanted to talk about the dead man...but Jim didn't want to. 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 on e that was planted and comfortable. That sounded pretty reasonable, so I didn't say no more..." KC This quote shows Huck believes that the superstitious belief that talking about the unburied dead will bring bad luck is true and he observes it. Pg 59, Bottom of Page "Jim told me to chop off the snake's head and throw it away, and then skin the body and roast a piece of it. I done it, and he eat it and said it would help cure him. He made me take off the rattles and tie them around his wrist, too. He said that would help." KC This quote shows that Huck believes and does as Jim says when Jim asks Huck to observe the superstitious beliefs of roasting a piece of the snakeskin for the person who got bit to eat and tying the rattles around the wrist of the person who got bit. Pg 131, Bottom of Page "You couldn't make out what the preacher said any more, on account of the shouting and crying. Folks got up everywhere in the crowd, and worked their way just by main strength to the mourner's bench, with the tears running down their faces; and when all the mourners had got up there to the front benches in a crowd, they sung and shouted and flung themselves down on the straw, just crazy and wild." CF This quote shows that the sophisticated society surrounding Huck is highly religious. This quote also shows that Huck thinks that the way that these religious people are just "crazy and wild" which indicates that he does not understand what all the fuss is about. In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck does not regularly practice religion and he has no real care nor use for it mainly because he does not understand it. Huck's Relationship with Religion, KC How Twain Makes Superstition a Symbol of Who We Naturally Are, KC and CF Superstition symbolizes who we naturally are in the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is because when someone is superstitious they can use superstition to "protect" themselves and they do not need someone else to watch over them as God watches over people with religion. When Huck is away from sophisticated society where people want him to be religious, he conducts himself with superstition in mind as opposed to religion. This, therefore, shows that Huck is naturally superstitious as opposed to religious because, as previously stated, he finds that superstition makes more sense to him because he can use superstitious beliefs to help himself fend for himself as he has been doing for years. Huck is superstitious a lot more than he is religious. This is because superstition makes more sense to him because he can use superstitious beliefs to help himself "protect" himself and fend for himself as he has been doing for years. Pg 207, Bottom of Page "I took (the letter telling the widow where Jim was) up,and held it in my hand...'All right, then, I'll go to hell'-and (I) tore (the letter) up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming...and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it." KC This quote shows that Huck does not understand a main part of religion, hell, and how you are never supposed to want to go there. He also says he will not think anymore about "reforming" and so he is, once and for all, leaving religion behind him. Pg 26, Top of Page "...Jim, had a hairball as big as your fist, which had been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed everything. So I went to him that night..." CF This quote shows that Huck believes that Jim's hairball does know everything, which is a superstitious belief, and Huck goes to Jim to find out what the hairball has to say to him because he will believe whatever it says. And Special Thanks to Ashley Knoerdel
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