Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
With American Gods, I enjoyed it the first time, but I think this second time and at this junction in my life I am appreciating it better. So I am getting this novel a bitter more intuitively then the first time through. I find it visual, subtle, coy. The motifs slowly unveil themselves but only so slightly as if being shy.. Brilliant idea about how America has transformed the gods and devils of the Old World into trivialities, low-lives, and forgotten day dreams, and how our new things like TV, the internet, cars, are all the new devils, the new gods, as entities and not just concepts. I do wish that Gaiman had elaborated on these a bit more, it would have only increased the brilliance of this original theme..
I just finished this one through. I understood it much more clearly this time, perhaps I was in a more lucid mode or a more receptive mood. It seems to me that this is essentially a personification of grieving or finding faith. The gods in this novel are symbols of belief. Shadow is grieving his dead wife, and the meeting of these gods through out the story is a symbol of his searching for faith while grieving. Each of his relationships with the personified gods is really just symbolic of his trying to develop an understanding and relationship with them in his mind. The gods themselves are symbols of all the things humans believe in, tangible and intangible, forces, phenomena, technology, ideas, opinions, myths, etc etc. What believe become "gods" and in this novel these beliefs are just personified as the characters called gods. The old gods battle the new gods, the old ideas battle with the new ideas, all in the mind of Shadow for dominance, for influence, for a relationship. Laura, as a zombie, represents his inability to accept her loss. she carries on because he still believes in her, just as the gods carry on because of the last bits of belief which keep them going. She destroys several of the gods in this story to save Shadow, symbolizing how his grief for her is overpowering even the other gods, the other aspects of reality. Only she remains somewhat real to him, everything else is in flux. Each event, each idea, each force, becomes a new god which he interacts with. In the end he only wins the battle for his own mind when he accepts and embraces her death as concrete, and lets her go. Further, the struggle with the gods only ends when he also yields to fate, and accepts whatever comes in the flow. As he concludes, "the only thing I've really learned about dealing with gods is that if you make a deal, you keep it.. even if I tried to walk out of here, my feet would just bring me back." Since the gods in this novel are essentially just all the aspects of human reality and the human experience personified, then what Shadow is saying is that in the end, all humans can do is submit to the whims of reality. This is truth. A delightful novel now that I have really attached myself more so to it. The first time I read it through I enjoyed it, but I didn't find any kind of depth, but now, I think I get it