Response #1: Mumbo Jumbo

Sarah Jang

ENG 391W

Professor Alvarez

22 February 2011

Response #1: Mumbo Jumbo

Within Mumbo Jumbo, written by Ishmael Reed, there is an interesting movement that occurs between the older generation and the younger generation. The movement that takes place is like that of a grandfather clock. Without the pendulum, the hands or rather, “time” cannot move forward. And without the clock, the pendulum cannot have its swing and rhythm. History is like the clock; the movement forward is like the pendulum. In Mumbo Jumbo, there is a tension that exists within the growth of Jes Grew and a need to look back on cultural heritage.

There is a clash between the generations that can be found between the older and the younger generation. “Limbering is the way the youngsters recreate themselves while their elders declaim they cease and desist from this lascivious ‘sinful’ Bunny-Hugging, this suggestive bumping and grinding, this wild abandoned spooning” (Reed 22). The keywords in this passage given are “recreate” and “wild abandoned spooning.” There is the concept of a rebirth without structure. The younger generation searches to form a new culture and a new identity out of the culture that is already established. There is this compelling notion to move forward and to establish oneself in their roots yet to grow and expand from it, creating stretch marks.

This need to come from the roots of their cultural heritage is evident when the narrator later on introduces the story of Osiris, Seth, and Isis. “[Thoth] called on Osiris 1 day and argued his theory that the outbreaks occurred because the mysteries had no text to turn to. No litany to feed the spirits that were seizing the people…Guides were initiated into the Book of Thoth, the 1stanthology written by the 1st choreographer” (Reed 164). This embraces the idea of knowing where ones roots are from and to establish oneself from those roots. There is a need to understand where one comes from. An outbreak, which occurs because the mysteries of their movement had “no text to turn to.” There was no recording of where their heritage came from and when it was created, there was order. There was a comprehension of culture, and the clockworks of the grandfather clock begins to turn.

An important thing that was stated in the text was when Abdul claimed, “O that’s just a lot of people twisting they butts and getting happy. Old, primitive, superstitious jungle ways” (Reed 34). Abdul brings up an interesting idea that Jes Grew came from “old, primitive, superstitious jungle” ways. The irony is comes from the notion that the Jes Grew is a movement forward, a change in cultural and a different establishment, yet there is a view that it is old, primitive, and superstitious.

There is a strange motion and relationship that exists between the younger and the older generation. It sways and zigzags unevenly between the two and the relationship is strained. There is a tug and pull and some stretching. However, there is growth and struggle in this new identity. A struggle that is needed to form a strong foundation and root in where they came from. It is a beautiful formation, just like how the trees and vines rise against gravity, twisting and stretching themselves a place in the world.

Works Cited
Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1972. Print.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar