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Abelardo L. Rodriguez CettoANTH 116W /Dr. Delcore03/22/2020Salvation on Sand Mountain Critical ReviewDennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountaindescribes a spiritual Journey into the center of a publicly ignored religion and gives an overturn to the typical method of southern stories. Covington centers the introductory pages on religion as the key to the understanding of the identity of the South as a whole and shows great pain in presenting a fair and empathetic viewpoint of rural southerners and snake handlers. Covington’s initial interest in the culture of snake-handling starts when he becomes a New York Times journalist handling the Alabama, Scottsboro, Reverend Glen Summerford’s trial, who was then sentenced to 90 years in jail for an attempt to kill his wife using rattlesnakes that were part of his church. Covington does not see thetrial like a funny show for southern freaks; instead, he was captivated by intense faith depicted by the snake handlers (Odom). His interests are motivated by pure curiosity, as well as fascination by the snake-handling culture in what turns the book into a great first-perspective journalism. Covington is captivated by the people’s desire and their neglect of dedication and he participates in a sympathetic study into a culture mocked as ridiculous. Covington uses a rhetorical method in his writing, without focusing on the proof of the religion or its validity. He focuses on the spiritual issues to help him tackle with the social problems and history that has plagued the South for a long time. Through the reversal of the typical wholeness pattern, he creates a vision of the character of the Southern biography that includes his ancestry into the South involving self-decentering. This confusion occurs as a result of taking part in the culture of snake-handling, which is the key to his identity. Covington views
his current writing career as an obstacle to portray the southern snake handlers fairly and understands that there is a lot to study from his lineage:“The handlers showed me something, and I was ready to be shown."Covington created a work that deeply and fairly represents Southern handlers. He has been an outsider from the beginning when he mentions his upbringing in Birmingham, Alabama, an industrial city. He says that he was raised in a:“Quiet, sober neighborhood, where the families of grocers and plumbers and office workers tried to secure a hold on middle- class respectability."