American Gods by Neil Gaiman: What Is Gaiman Saying About Sacrifice, and How Does He Illustrate His Perspective on Sacrifice Throughout the Novel?
Shadow himself admits that he is numb to life after becoming aware his wife was unfaithful, "anyway nothing's really surprised me since Laura...since I learned she was screwing Robbie...that one hurt...everything else just sits on the surface". Neil Gaiman intentionally does not describe Shadow very much. He uses Shadow's vagueness to draw the reader in, and help them relate to the main character.
Can you be American if you arrive on a boat with a Green card? Must you be born in America? According to one of the protagonists of this novel, Wednesday, "Nobody's American. Not originally." Alternatively, according to the American government, you are American if you were born in the United States or obtain legal citizenship. Gaiman is from the UK, though he has been living here for several years. During the writing of this novel, he took a cross-country journey visiting many of the places that he writes about. He was getting a first hand experience of America. In reading Gaiman's An Introduction to the Tenth Anniversary Edition (2011), I got the sense that his travels were an exploration of American culture. In chapter 11 Wednesday is trying to convince Easter to join their war against the new Gods while they are having espresso in a cafe (Cave, Damien and Todd Heisler, 2015). During their exchange, Wednesday asks their waitress to tell him what Easter celebrates. The waitress replies, "I don't know about any of that Christian stuff, I am Pagan." Easter tries to convince Wednesday that people do still celebrate her original Pagan holiday. To that Wednesday points out to Easter that, " I would agree that millions upon millions of them give each other tokens in your name, and that they still practice the rites of your festival, even down to hunting for hidden eggs. But how many of them know who you are?" (274). Ultimately, Easter admits she knows this and , with a heavy heart, agrees to join Wednesday. Americans are not actually celebrating her true spirit because they have forgotten the ancient stories and celebrations associated with the original Pagan holiday of Ostara (Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers, 1988). Why don't people know that when the Easter bunny brings eggs, it is symbolic of the extreme fertility of Spring? How might our country be different if we did teach our children to celebrate spring, and the sun, and the new growth of the Earth in Spring-time?
He is both discreet and subtle when mentioning sometimes radical ideas and views about language and religion, which creates a very educated and effective experience for the reader, which later entices them to learn more about the concepts that they read about.
Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. New York: Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1988. Print.
Cave, Damien and Todd Heisler. "The Way North." New York Times [New York, NY] 24 June 2014. N.p. Web. 12 April, 2015.
Gaiman, Neil. "American Gods: Letter to Reviewers." Neil Gaiman. 9 February, 2001. Web. 18 April, 2015.
Gaiman, Neil. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (Author's Preferred Text).