Sing, Unburied, Sing

by

Jesmyn Ward

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The Gris-Gris Bag Symbol Analysis

The Gris-Gris Bag Symbol Icon

When Leonie takes Jojo with her to pick up Michael from Parchman, Jojo finds that one of his grandparents has secretly packed a “gris-gris” bag along with his things. Gris-gris bags are voodoo talismans used in a number of West African cultures, a tradition carried on by descendants of enslaved Africans––like Jojo’s family––in the United States. Inside Jojo’s gris-gris bag is a feather, an animal’s tooth, a rock, and a small note that says “Keep this close.” According to Pop, objects in a gris-gris bag––like everything in the world––each contain a spirit, and the particular combination of objects is thus designed to achieve a “balance of spirit” that will protect whoever carries the bag with them. The gris-gris bag represents the hybrid religious traditions practiced by Jojo’s family. It also denotes Mam and Pop’s love for Jojo and their desire to protect him through both ordinary and supernatural means.

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The Gris-Gris Bag Symbol Timeline in Sing, Unburied, Sing

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Gris-Gris Bag appears in Sing, Unburied, Sing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Leonie
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...them. In her youth, Mam would help women give birth, nurse the sick, and prepare gris-gris bags to protect people, even though few seek her help in her old age. In those... (full context)
Chapter 3: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Back in the present, Jojo discovers a gris-gris bag that has been placed alongside the things he packed for the journey. Inside is a... (full context)
Chapter 7: Leonie
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Miscegenation Theme Icon
...and violently high. Given appears, and Kayla vomits again. The officer finds nothing but Jojo’s gris-gris bag , which he hands back to Jojo rudely. He takes off the cuffs and tells... (full context)
Chapter 11: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...to get Pop’s attention, but Pop can’t hear him. Pop asks if Jojo found the gris-gris bag , explaining that it was the only way he could send some part of himself... (full context)