Part II, Chapter Six: Summary and Analysis
Old Lady Celestine: a woman who lives in the French quarter of New Orleans. She tries to perform a hoodoo spell on her neighbor.
Mrs. Grant: a hoodoo apprentice who tries to counter a hoodoo spell placed upon her.
Pierre Landeau: a man who recounts his accidental encounter with a hoodoo doctor.
This chapter is devoted to tales about hoodoo which Zora has overheard and relates to the reader in order to “illustrate the attitude of Negroes in the Deep South toward this subject.”
Old Lady Celestine borrows some change from a neighbor, but the neighbor later finds out from a friend that Celestine probably borrowed change from her in order to place a curse on her. The neighbor and her friend sneak into Celestine’s room and find Celestine performing a ritual with the money. According to Zora, “all the Treme [the French quarter of New Orleans] heard about the fight that followed.” Mrs. Grant is a woman who was a disciple of a famous hoodoo doctor. When Mrs. Grant discovers another woman placing a curse upon her door, she engages in a complicated series of rituals designed to remove the curse. A Georgia landowner who killed a young slave girl became the target of a man named Dave who knew hoodoo. Over the next few years, the landowner is attacked and almost killed by each member of his family. Pierre Landeau of New Orleans then recounts a childhood experience. Pierre took some items that belonged to a hoodoo doctor and disturbed them, and afterwards fell sick with a shaking fever for two days.
In the previous chapter, Hurston had mentioned that Dr. Samuel Jenkins had many rich, white clients so that the reader may understand the broad spectrum of popularity and faith enjoyed by hoodoo. These stories are told, however, to show the reader the deep respect that most of the African Americans...
(The entire section is 487 words.)