Mohit’s Long Paper Outline

Mumbo Jumbo Outline

 

This history of Jes Grew and its relationship to Jes Grew carry with them a long history that conveniently explains an aspect of the world that is hard to swallow. Racism.

 

The Mutafikah’s fight against racism. The VooDoo practitioners fight against it. And they both carry with them an ideology – a long way of explaining racism’s history. And Ishmael Reed asks us – he dares us to doubt their history. When we read his conspiracy theory, we become the Gainese art collector. We embody the university educated Atonists that we are and we say, it’s fiction.

 

But at the end of the day it’s an explanation that works. It makes sense why all the racism exists. It serves a function. Racism towards non-white arts and values exists because denying others their true form of expression gives them power. Set wants to stay in power over Osiris because he is jealous and he enlists the western world and its prophets to help him. Thus Jes Grew is degraded as an ideal – as a complete whole.

 

Similarly, Winnie explains her life in terms of luck. These terms of luck help Winnie understand her life that was unjustly uncharitable at times. Just as Atonicism and it’s origins explain why the west is so good at unjustly keeping people down, the artbitrary rules of luck and respect help Winnie make sense of her world. Things happen to her because of bad luck.

 

“No, I’m not being superstitious. I am only saying that’s how it happened.”

 

Again, we are dared with our Western values to doubt a different way of rationalizing the world. But with closer examination, we can’t do it. Winnie’s understanding of the world is sound. She has made it through incredible hardships in tact because of her way of seeing the world.

 

Both these novels present characters that must face their world with a unique understanding of their world. It helps them understand their world. Triumphant or not, they live as beacons of light in a life that could otherwise be bleak and without hope.

 

Mumbo Jumbo Examples:
Examples of the LaBas understanding of the world:
Mumbo Jumbo page 160-200 – the full history of the Book of Thoth

Page 50: LaBas prepares dishes for the loas

The Epilogue: LaBas shrewdly acknowledges his hold on the truth despite others’ non-belief

Conversation with Abdul – page 33-41

62 – Jung Quote – Gods of the East vs. Gods of the West

LaBas’ conversation with his daughter – clearly different opinions on openness regarding sex

Page 28 – explanation of feeding the loa

 

Examples of Racism:

Page 110-115 Thor being convinced by Biff Musclewhite

Page 22: the men speak of Haiti having no valuable art – Absurd.

Uses of the word primitive on pages 57, 83, 97, 99, and 111

Page 16 – obsession with seeing black hands come in contact with white crop

Page 17 – Harding – “Let’s get rid of the wiggle and wobble”

 

Kitchen God’s Wife Examples:

 

123 – Winnie explains the difference between luck and chance

308+252 – injustices on her friends’ and Wen Fu’s part

312, 257 – self-awareness of tendency to blame women

247 – scissors fall – “If you think I am only being superstitious… why did it happen?”

29-30 – Pearl’s explanation of her mother’s superstitions

41 – Winnie looks for the ghost in Pearl’s room

341 – Winnie and Jimmy disagree on the luck/fate of their meeting once again

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One Response to Mohit’s Long Paper Outline

  1. wcd2 says:

    Mohit —

    Racism is important to Mumbo Jumbo, but much less so for The Kitchen God’s Wife. To bring these two novels into fruitful conversation, it might be good to bracket racism for the moment, and concentrate instead on something like “Folk Magic.” This would allow you to talk about Jes Grew, the Mumbo Jumbo Kathedral, Voodoo in Haiti, the Knights Templar, the cult of Osiris in ancient Egypt, as well as Winnie’s belief in ghosts, luck, the Kitchen God’s Wife, and much more. Your detailed knowledge of the novels will be on full display. I can’t wait to see this rich, cross-cultural analysis.

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