|“||He was looking at Mr. Nancy, an old black man with a pencil moustache, in his check sports jacket and his lemon-yellow gloves, riding a carousel lion as it rose and lowered, high in the air; and, at the same time, in the same place, he saw a jeweled spider as high as a horse, its eyes an emerald nebula, strutting, staring down at him; and simultaneously he was looking at an extraordinarily tall man with teak-colored skin and three sets of arms, wearing a flowing ostrich-feather headdress, his face painted with red stripes, riding an irritated golden lion, two of his six hands holding on tightly to the beast's mane; and he was also seeing a young black boy, dressed in rags, his left foot all swollen and crawling with black flies; and last of all, and behind all these things, Shadow was looking at a tiny brown spider, hiding under a withered ochre leaf.||”|
Mr. Nancy is one of the first gods Shadow meets after Mr. Wednesday and Czernobog. Shadow meets him in the cafeteria at the House on the Rock. He is a cynical, snarky, wily trickster god who lives in Florida. He often makes fun of Shadow, despite being helpful to him and being mostly loyal to Mr. Wednesday's cause. Nancy has extensive interchange with the more intense Czernobog. The two of them later travel with Shadow to the Center of America and the World Tree. After the main events of the story, Mr. Nancy helps Shadow by taking him to Florida, where he replenishes his strength by singing karaoke.
Mr. Nancy mentions at one point that he gains worship by having stories told about him. He tells stories based on West African animism, including such characters as Bird, Tiger, and Monkey. Tiger first owned all the stories; sad stories about the hunt, blood, and death. After some time, however, Anansi stole all of Tiger's stories and was the focal point in funny stories about trickery and being clever. In these stories, Mr. Nancy plays tricks on the other animals, as he is a trickster god.
Significance in narrative Edit
At the House on the Rock, Shadow, Mr. Wednesday, and Czernobog encounter Mr. Nancy at the pizzaria-cafeteria. Wednesday leaves for the restroom while Shadow is introduced to Mr. Nancy. Once Wednesday returns, they set off again through the House on the Rock, finally reaching the Carousel Room.
The carousel goes round and round without stopping because it is meant to be admired, not ridden. Wednesday then asks Shadow to help them onto the platform where he, Czernobog, and Mr. Nancy jump on board the carousel. Shadow joins them, feeling more uneasy breaking the rules at the carousel than he did robbing the bank that morning.
Once on the carousel, each of the men select a mount with Wednesday picking a golden wolf, Czernobog choosing an armored centaur, and Nancy climbing on a roaring lion. Shadow eventually selects a tiger with an eagle's head to ride. The four men laugh and enjoy their ride on the carousel as the Blue Danube waltz plays and the lights glistened. Then, the lights go out and Shadow sees the gods.
When the lights go out on the carousel at the House on the Rock, the only illumination is from starlight as the eagle-headed tiger beneath Shadow seemed to come to life. He is able to see multiple dimensions with Mr. Nancy appearing to him in all his various forms. The creatures they rode trotted them to a wooden hall on a hill. Czernobog tells Shadow that none of it is really happening and it's all in his head. Shadow also sees Czernobog in his various forms as Wednesday steers his giant wolf over to Shadow's side and tells him his various names, leading Shadow to ask if Wednesday is Odin, which Wednesday confirms.
They enter Valaskjalf, Odin's old hall, as Mr. Nancy explains to Shadow they're in Wednesday's mind. Wednesday is upset that there aren't as many people waiting for them in the hall as he expected. Mr. Nancy steps up as the "warm-up" man and tells the crowd of Old Gods a story about how he stole Tiger's balls and blamed it on Old Monkey, which is why to this day, Tiger chases monkeys. Wednesday next stands before the people gathered. He gives them a speech about how the New Gods are growing in America and it is now time for the Old Gods to act. Mama-ji gets into an argument with Wednesday, saying they only have to wait for the New Gods to die out like the ones of the past. Wednesday tells them all they have already lost everything and he is offering them the chance to take something back.
The fire burns out and the meeting ends. Shadow asks Mr. Nancy what happens next and Nancy says Wednesday buys them all dinner and will work them one-by-one over to his side. They are suddenly back in the Carousel Room and Wednesday is talking to what looks to be a group of tourists. Wednesday leads them out of the House on the Rock as Shadow asks Nancy if it really happened. Nancy replies, "Heck, nobody's allowed to ride the carousel. Didn't you see the signs? Now hush."
After Shadow is arrested in Lakeside by Chief Mulligan, Shadow calls Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor. Mr. Ibis answers and Shadow asks him to track down Wednesday. Ibis tells Shadow he can't get a hold of Wednesday but he left a message with Mr. Nancy and wishes him luck.
When the Lafayette deputies arrive at the jail to pick Shadow up, Mulligan signs Shadow over to them. Shadow is put into the backseat of a black town car. As they drive away, the deputies reveal themselves to be Mr. Nancy and Czernobog.
Czernobog and Mr. Nancy take Shadow to Minneapolis where they meet up with Alviss and change from the black town car to a VW bus. Alviss expresses his sympathy to Shadow and asks if the "vigil" falls on him, which Czernobog says he will not have to do.
Eventually they stop for food and gas. Mr. Nancy receives a phone call from the New Gods telling them to meet in the Center of America, neutral territory for both the Old Gods and New Gods, so they can give them back Mr. Wednesday's body.
They drive toward Lebanon, KS and the Center of America, stopping in Humansville, MO and visiting a supermarket where they encounter Gwyndion who promises Mr. Nancy he'll "be there." They continue driving before another brief stop outside Cherryvale, KS. Czernobog exits the vehicle and walks to the center of a meadow where he had once been worshiped and he feasts on its residual power, rejuvenating himself.
They reach the Center of America that evening and park at the one-story motel. There is a chauffeur and a female newscaster standing outside. Media introduces herself and leads them inside where Technical Boy is waiting with Mr. Town. Shadow asks Mr. Town if he's slept with Mr. Wood's wife yet. Mr. Town hands room keys to Mr. Nancy who passes them out to Shadow and Czernobog. Shadow heads to his room and falls asleep.
Media calls Shadow for dinner and he walks out to find the chauffeur has brought everyone McDonald's from Nebraska. As they eat dinner, Shadow asks when they can take Mr. Wednesday's body and is told that according to the rules, they have to wait until midnight. After dinner, Shadow heads outside with Mr. Nancy. Nancy warns him that with Wednesday's death, the war between the Old Gods and New Gods has started. Mr. Nancy returns inside.
It's soon close to midnight so everyone heads to Room Five, where Wednesday's body is laid out in the middle. Loki calls the gathering to order and asks if anyone would like to say something. Mr. Town passes, Czernobog warns that this is the start of war, and Technical Boy starts to recite a poem but can't remember the rest of it. Shadow says that the whole situation is "pitiful" because half the people there had a hand in killing him but Shadow is still working for Wednesday. Media makes a few pithy comments about life and death before Mr. Nancy finishes off with another warning that the New Gods would pay for what they had done.
The New Gods leave. They wrap Wednesday up in sheets and Shadow carries him out to their bus. Mr. Nancy takes the wheel and they leave the Center of America, heading east. When they reach Princeton, MO, Nancy asks Shadow where they can drop him off. Against their protests, Shadow insists that he is staying with Wednesday's body and will hold the vigil even after Czernobog and Mr. Nancy both warn him it will kill him. Even though Shadow hopes he will survive, he is willing to die because then maybe he'll finally have lived.
They drive Wednesday's body to the ASH farm in Virginia. A perfectly symmetrical silver-gray tree rises up higher than the farmhouse, identical to Wednesday's silver tie pin. There are three women of descending heights by the tree who Shadow mistakes at first for the Zorya Sisters. The tallest sister removes Wednesday's body from the bus and the three sisters place his body underneath the tree before approaching Shadow. They ask if he's the one who will mourn and hold vigil for the all-father and Shadow nods. Nancy tries again to dissuade him but Shadow holds firm. Czernobog says that Shadow needs to survive the vigil for him because he still gets to hit him on the head.
After Shadow stops the war, Mr. Nancy tells Shadow he is proud and they exit from Backstage. There are several gods injured from the initial skirmish and helicopters come to clean up the mess left behind.
Shadow and Mr. Nancy drive to Mr. Nancy's home in Florida. Mr. Nancy takes Shadow out to a bar and they sing karaoke together. Shadow dreams of the Buffalo Man that night and awakens the next morning with a hangover and Mr. Nancy making breakfast. Mr. Nancy goes to a trunk to retrieve some aspirin, jogging Shadow's memory about something to do with trunks. He quickly leaves Mr. Nancy's because "the ice is melting."
Anansi Boys is centered on the children of Mr. Nancy, who dies at the beginning of the story. Mr. Nancy's son, Fat Charlie, moved from Florida to London to escape his humiliating father and when his father dies, he learns of his long-estranged brother, named Spider.
Physical appearance Edit
Mr. Nancy is described as a small, elderly black man with "a hint of patois that might have been West Indian" in his voice and his eyes are described as the "color of mahogany." He has a pencil mustache and wears a lime-green fedora and lemon-yellow gloves with a checkered suit.
Notes and trivia Edit
Anansi originated in Ashanti tales, in what is now Ghana, Africa. Anansi is both a man and a spider who is a successful trickster, going so far as to steal stories from the sky god. From this point on, he owns all the stories. He shows up as a character and god in folk tales of the West African diaspora, especially in the Caribbean and the Southern United States. His stories have become those associated with Brer Rabbit and Aunt Nancy.