Believe it or not, from the 1800s to now, there are several similarities and differences in superstition. A similarity would include the superstition of spilling salt and throwing it over your left shoulder. A difference from modern superstitions from past superstitions, is we have scientific evidence explaining why things happen. Some things just stick with people throughout the years, and some things get proven. Also, Jim and Huck have many different perspectives on superstition. In the story, The Adventures of Huck Finn superstition plays a huge role in describing the way of life back in the 1800s.
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At one part of the book, Huck spills salt and throws it over his left shoulder. “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 ahead of me, and crossed me off.” Even nowadays people still do this, because people are still cautious about having bad luck. The superstition about salt goes back to the biblical days. Spilling salt is considered bad luck because salt was expensive, crucial in preserving food, and was often used as money. It is considered a huge offense to the lord and the devil will take more interest in you.
Throwing salt over your shoulder is similar to blessing someone after they have sneezed. It’s a way of distracting the devil while you’re in an especially vulnerable moment. Depending on your interpretation, the salt is either intended to blind the devil so he can’t witness your error, or keep him from sneaking up on you while you’re cleaning up your mess. From my perspective, it seems like the superstitions that stick with people are superstitions that take place in the biblical ages. Eighty four percent of people are still religious today, which causes them to still be cautious about those types of superstition.
Huck starts to become really superstitious and believes everything is superstition. For example, “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 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.” The way Huck was raised, superstition was deep rooted in his mind. In that time period, They didn’t have much scientific evidence to prove some of the natural superstitions that happened but nowadays that isn’t the case.
“Now you think it’s bad luck; but what did you say when I fetched in the snake-skin that I found on the top of the ridge day before yesterday? You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin with my hands.” Huck is fed up with all of Jim’s superstitions and he decides to pull a prank on him. He takes the dead rattlesnake skin and puts it on Jim’s bed. When Jim goes to sleep, a rattlesnake was in his bed, because it wanted to be with its dead partner. The snake bites Jim and he has to go and help him. This is an example of bad luck happening naturally. They thought it was because of religious and superstitious purposes, but in reality, it was because the snake wanted to be with is dead mate. This incident made Huck more cautious about superstition in the future.
Huck and Jim’s superstitions differ in many ways. Jim is an uneducated runaway slaves that believes in many superstitions. He sailed down to the island where later he met Huck. Even though Jim is uneducated, his superstitions come true. One of the superstitions that come true is when Huck touches the rattle snake skin with bare hands and the result of that is Jim being bitten by a rattlesnake because Huck put it in his bed. Huck superstitions are more childish and foolish. For example his superstition in the beginning of the book when he kills the spider with his candle. It didn’t necessarily make sense why he thought it was bad luck, but he still stated that it was. He is a lot less serious about superstition in the beginning of the story.
But after the snake incident with Jim, he changed his views of superstition a lot. Huck is a dynamic character in this story because he changes from being childish to being careful about superstition. “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 that would help.” Huck, although skeptical, begins to be obedient to Jim and does as he says for the bad luck signs. Clearly they differ in their view on superstitions.
In the story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there prove to be many similarities and differences in superstition from the 1800s to present. A similarity would include the superstition of spilling salt and throwing it over your left shoulder. A difference from modern superstitions from past superstitions, is we have scientific evidence explaining why things happen. Also, Jim and Huck have many alternate views on superstition. In conclusion, superstition plays a huge role in describing the way of life back in the 1800s.