| Quote #1
The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent among children and slaves in the West at the period of this story -- that is to say, thirty or forty years ago. (P.2)
There must be some common element to the superstitions discussed in the book that appeals to both groups; at one point Tom and Huck discuss a particular belief that has been passed on by a slave.
| Quote #2
"Say -- what is dead cats good for, Huck?"
Superstitions function as a kind of street smarts, a way for kids, in this case Tom and Huck, to demonstrate their knowledge.
| Quote #3
Old beams began to crack mysteriously. The stairs creaked faintly. Evidently spirits were abroad. A measured, muffled snore issued from Aunt Polly's chamber. And now the tiresome chirping of a cricket that no human ingenuity could locate, began. Next the ghastly ticking of a deathwatch in the wall at the bed's head made Tom shudder -- it meant that somebody's days were numbered. (4.1)
Tom's beliefs, in this case in something called a "deathwatch," seem to come from some combination of overactive imagination and a desire to make sense of the unknown.