King Solomon's Mines

describe witch hunt?

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The agents of the witch hunt are all women, “most of them aged, for their white hair, ornamented with small bladders taken from fish, streamed out behind them. Their faces were painted in stripesof white and yellow; down their backs hung snake-skins, and round their waists rattled circlets of human bones” (Haggard 147). These are Gagool’s acolytes, and as such take part in their priestess’s denigration of the female element in the world. They bring destruction to otherwise strong and admirable men, suggesting the role of the female as a threat to masculinity and to true honor. Everyone knows the men chosen as “wicked” are in fact men who have been overheard criticizing Twala—nonetheless, the entire assembly ascribes the witch-finders’ powers to supernatural rather than political sources.

The body count rises to one-hundred; Twala’s rituals are bloody and excessive. However, the high number of casualties also suggests that the leader’s power base is not as stable as he would like—to find one hundred men among the tribe who have expressed doubts about Twala cannot help but suggest there are many, many more yet undiscovered. In addition, Gagool oversteps herself when she indicates Umbopa/Ignosi is one of the “witches.” Twala is forced to save his own life (threatened by Quatermain) and save face by claiming the laws of hospitality forbid him to kill Ignosi as indicated. This turnabout serves as the first crack in Twala’s wall of authority, since the people have now seen him admit that Gagool is not always correct in her assessments of “witches.”