What is the meaning of this phrase in Huckleberry Finn: "I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time."

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This example of Huck's superstitious nature takes place in the opening chapter of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck has returned to St. Petersburg and is now living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. It is his first night back in civilization, and Huck is bored.

All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular...
    I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead... I got so downhearted and scared that I did wish I had some company.

So, after spelling and bible lessons and prayers, Huck is sent to his room to sleep. While sitting in a chair by the window, a spider crawls up his shoulder, so Huck flips it away. But it "lit in the candle... and all shriveled up." Huck's superstitions took over at this time. He recognizes it as a bad sign that would bring nothing but 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 the witches away.

These movements were meant to reverse the bad luck of the spider with good luck instead, "But I hadn't no confidence." Shaking all over, Huck pulled out his pipe for a smoke. Shortly after the clock struck midnight, Huck heard a "Me-yow! Me-yow" outside the window below, and he knew it was a signal from his friend, Tom Sawyer.

 

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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