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Mr. Ibis/Novel

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Do you know what a psychopomp is? It's a fancy term for an escort. We all have so many functions, so many ways of existing. In my own vision of myself, I am a scholar who lives quietly, and pens his little tales, and dreams about a past that may or may not ever have existed. And that is true, as far as it goes. But I am also, in one of my capacities, like so many of the people you have chosen to associate with, a psychopomp. I escort the living to the world of the dead.

–Mr. Ibis to Shadow, Chapter Sixteen

Mr. Ibis is one of the Old Gods, and a supporting character in American Gods. He runs Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor with his partner, Mr. Jacquel. Mr. Ibis is also the author of some of the Coming to America stories told throughout the novel.

Significance in narrative Edit

Chapter Seven Edit

When Shadow first arrives in Cairo, IL, he meets a cat (Bast), a talking dog (Mr. Jacquel), and a man in gold-rimmed spectacles (Mr. Ibis) who take him to Ibis and Jacquel family funeral parlor.

Chapter Eight Edit

They let Shadow stay with them and do some work for them as they owe Wednesday a favor. Shadow has lunch with Ibis, who explains that most funeral homes are large corporations, because they make more profit. However, in order to appeal to the public, they keep the name and employees of the smaller funeral homes they purchase. Mr Ibis then reveals that he and Jacquel come from Ancient Egypt. He was brought over by the people of the Nile when they came up the Mississippi to trade, and left them behind. Ibis explains that advanced peoples from all over the world had been coming to America long before Columbus.

Shadow watches Mr. Jacquel as he performs an autopsy on a murdered young girl. He does it professionally and slowly, but eats small pieces of her heart, liver, and kidney as he is performing the procedure. Ibis asks Shadow if he minds sleeping under the same roof as corpses, and Shadow responds that it's fine as long as they stay dead. Ibis explains that it's very difficult to bring the dead back to life in their bodies, but that it used to be easier in ancient Egypt.

Ibis and Jacquel host a service for Lila Goodchild and they ask Shadow to pick up a body the police phoned about. When Shadow arrives at the site, he sees Mad Sweeney frozen with a twenty-dollar bottle of whiskey in his lap. Back at the funeral home, Mr. Goodchild continues to complain how his children won’t come to pay their respects, repeating “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

That night, Shadow, Ibis, and Jacquel set an extra place on the table and pour everyone expensive Irish whisky. Ibis tells Mad Sweeney's story: he was made to protect a precious stone in Ireland, and was brought to America by a young Irish girl looking for a place to make money. They all get drunk to the point that Sweeney starts adding to the conversation and Sweeney reminds Shadow how to do the coin trick: you take the coin out of nowhere, out of the hoard, and out of your mind.

Chapter Thirteen Edit

When Shadow is arrested by Mulligan in Lakeside, he lets Shadow use his phone and Shadow calls Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor. Mr. Ibis answers and Shadow asks him to track down Wednesday. Bast comes on the phone next and tells him to take care. Ibis tells Shadow he can't get a hold of Wednesday but he left a message with Mr. Nancy and wishes him luck.

Chapter Sixteen Edit

As Shadow journeys through the Underworld, a splashing noise reaches him in the darkness. He waits on the shore as Mr. Ibis rows a boat over. As they row back to the other side, Ibis tells Shadow he is his psychopomp, there to escort him from the world of the living to the world of the dead. Even though Shadow didn't believe in the Egyptian gods, they believed in him and are now there to guide him on his way.

They disembark and Ibis takes Shadow to Anubis to be dissected and judged, leaving Shadow feeling painfully exposed as all of his sins are examined. Anubis asks for Shadow's heart and Bast passes it to Ibis. If Shadow's heart is too heavy, it will be fed to Ammet, the Eater of Souls. Anubis brings out a pair of golden scales and places a feather on one side and Shadow's heart on the other as Ammet lurks in the shadows, waiting. The scale balances out and Shadow is allowed to choose where to go next. Shadow asks for no heaven or hell but to simply rest and let it end. Mr. Jacquel opens a door to Nothing for Shadow and he walks through joyously.

Coming to America Edit

Mr. Ibis is the author of some of the Coming to America stories told throughout the novel.

Main article: Coming to America#Chapter Four

Mr. Ibis writes in his journal about how many of the early immigrants to America were indentured servants and deported criminals. He recounts the tale of Essie Tregowan from Cornwall who was a con artist, thief, and prostitute.

Main article: Coming to America#Chapter Eleven

Mr. Ibis tells the tale of a girl, Wututu, and her twin brother, Agasu, whose uncle sold them into slavery.

Physical appearance Edit

Ibis is tall and thin with a small bird's head on a long neck with a long and high beak.

In his human form, he is described as "a cranelike man with gold-rimmed spectacles" and is "well over six feet in height, with a cranelike stoop".

Notes and trivia Edit

  • Significance in Mythology: Mr. Ibis is an incarnation of Thoth, the Ancient Egyptian God of writing, wisdom, and magic.

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