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  1. SPILLING THE SALT The recurring theme of superstition that is used in Huckleberry Finn

  2. WHAT IS SUPERSTITION? Merriam-Webster defines superstition as: -A belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust of magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. -An irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition.

  3. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? -Superstition is the belief in otherwise illogical instances based on lack of knowledge, fear of unknown situations, trust in magic or luck, etc. -It can also mean an irrational state of mind toward God, nature, or the supernatural based on a superstition.

  4. COMMON MODERN SUPERSTITIONS -Spilling salt -Friday the 13th -Breaking a mirror -Opening up an umbrella indoors -Walking underneath a ladder -Having a black cat cross your path -”God Bless You” -Trick or Treating -Lucky Rabbit’s Foot -Stepping on a crack

  5. SUPERSTITIONS IN THE 1800’S -Rocking an empty cradle -Killing a cat -Having cattle wander into your garden -Unmarried woman sitting on a table top -Mirrors and death -Being buried on the north side of a church -Chickens predicting rain -Mending clothes while worn

  6. SUPERSTITIONS IN HUCK FINN -Horseshoes -Killing a spider -Spilling salt -Witches -Animals predicting death (owl, whippowill, dog) -Ghosts -Birds and rain -Counting food -Shaking a tablecloth after sundown -Telling bees about the owner dying -Snakeskin

  7. “Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it went 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… “I was going to catch some of them [birds], but Jim wouldn’t let me. He said it was death. He said that his father laid mighty sick once, and some of them catched a bird, and his old granny said his father would die, and he did.”

  8. “And he [Jim] said that handling a snake skin was such awful bad luck that we hadn’t got to the end of it yet. He said he druther see the new moon over his left shoulder as much as a thousand times than take up a snake-skin in his hand.

  9. “The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an own, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me and I couldn’t make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave and has to go about that way every night grieving.”

  10. The belief that witches were running amuck was also prevalent in Huckleberry Finn, in the form of Jim believing that he was bewitched and flown around. “Afterwards Jim said the witches bewitched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it.”

  11. MARK TWAIN’S THOUGHTS Mark Twain’s use of superstitions actually outlines his outlook on superstitions in real life. He believes that they can affect even the most mature mind and make it look at something with doubt if it were to question said superstition.

  12. “When the human race has once acquired a superstition nothing short of death is ever likely to remove it.” -Mark Twain “When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.” -Mark Twain in “Is Shakespeare Dead?”

  13. WHY DOES TWAIN USE SUPERSTITION? As stated in the video above, Twain may have used superstition to add some humor and differentiating ideas to the story. He may also have added it in order to show how to think in different ways.

  14. “Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.” -Edmund Burke “Speculation is perfectly alright, but if you stay there you’ve only founded a superstition. If you test it, you’ve started a science.” -Hal Clement

  15. “I’m a third done into a new book but sorry – I have a superstition about talking about it!” -Joanna Trollope “Ah, yes, superstition: it would appear to be cowardice in the face of the supernatural.” -Theophrastus

  16. “Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational – but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?” -Judith Viorst

  17. -"Superstition."Merriam-Webster. n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. -”Superstition.”, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. -”Superstitions and Psuedo Science.” Google Sites.n.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. -”Popular Superstitions and Their Origins.” Yahoo! Voices. David Brooks, Sep. 10, 2007. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. -”signs of bad luck on friday the 13th!!!”, August 13, 2010. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. -”Commuter Fashion Stick Umbrella-Wooden Shaft and Handle.” Photograph. PCG Stores. 19 Dec. 2012. -”Cattle and Dairy.” Photograph. Alaska Mill Feed and Garden Center. Alaska Mill Feed and Garden Center. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. -Seven. “Rockin the Cradle, Chillin the Cradle.” Photograph. Music From The Cradle. Music From The Cradle, 20 July 2010. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. -Eriksson, J., Larson, G., Gunnarsson, U., Bed’hom, B., Tixier-Boichard, M., Strömstedt, L., Wright, D., Jungerius, A., Vereijken, A., Randi, E., Jensen, P., Andersson, L., Georges, M. (2008). Identification of the Yellow Skin Gene Reveals a Hybrid Origin of the Domestic Chicken.PLoS Genetics, 4(2), e1000010. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000010

  18. -Virginia H. Cope. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn: Text, Illustrations, and Early Reviews Family of Sites. Virginia H. Cope, 1995. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. -Virginia H. Cope. “Jim and the Snake.” Photograph. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn: Text, Illustrations, and Early Reviews. Virginia H. Cope, 1995. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. -"Edmund Burke." Xplore Inc, 2012. 19 December 2012.  -"Judith Viorst." Xplore Inc, 2012. 19 December 2012. -"Joanna Trollope." Xplore Inc, 2012. 19 December 2012. -"Theophrastus." Xplore Inc, 2012. 19 December 2012. -"Hal Clement." Xplore Inc, 2012. 19 December 2012. -”9: Motif 2.” 60 Second Recap.Dimsum Media, Inc., 2010. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. -Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Ed. Stanley Appelbaum. New York: Charles M. Webster and Company, 1885. Print.