Explore Covingtons search for self-identity and "salvation" in the South. How does he explore the meaning of salvation in the context of both his own upbringing and his experiences on Sand Mountain? Which life does he…
The purpose was to cover the trial of Glendel Buford Summerford who was charged guilty of murdering his own wife with a snake. The scenes are powerful and spectacular. Summerford’s own wife isn’t aware of how exactly his name is spelled, if the N is single or is it double. There is an old woman referred to as Aunty Daisy by everyone, was pacing up and down the room making predictions. She was predicting that God will send Summerford out of jail. Even creepy was the presence of some women who would keep pictures of their favorite snakes in their pockets. In the trial that followed, Summerford gets convicted and imprisoned towards the end of chapter two. That was that about him after which he wasn’t seen as such. What follows is Dennis Covington’s growing obessesion and fascination with handling snakes. He slowly accepted the guarded and suspicious community of “Jesus-Onlys”. Ironically, Glenn Summerford was a part of this community as well.
There are only two ways in which an alien culture can be dealt with.. Either one patronizes it and dismisses it or becomes romantic and starry eyed about it. Convington had a skill which even anthropologists don’t. He started recognizing the snake holders as entities who had their own culture and who should be respected and understood on their own terms. There is reference to drinking strynchnine only when one feels that he is living life the right way. The statement does make sense if one believes that God protects those who have a strong relation with him. Snake handlers tend to be very easy targets of ridicule and mockery. However Covington resists the mockery. He doesn’t try to make fun of their poor grammar, their strange interpretation and readings of the bible and their creepy living conditions. However this doesn’t mean that he was under the impression that they were “noble and persecuted people”. They may have been ...
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In the book’s short prologue there is a clear linkage between extreme religious practice, symbolized by snake handling, and the peculiar nature of the South in American history, explained as a struggle against industrialization and loss of autonomy. As the narrative begins, it emerges that Covington is himself a Christian although he has been through many years of doubt due to his experiences in war torn Central America.
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