I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

by

Maryse Condé

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Hester becomes Tituba’s closest and most important friend after they meet in a jail cell near Salem. A prosperous white woman who has been outcast from Puritan society for having a brief affair with a minister, she now self-identifies (perhaps anachronistically) as a “feminist”; frequently, she complains that “life is too kind to men, whatever their color.” Hester is based on Hester Prynne, the heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter and one of the most important characters in all of American literature; in Hawthorne’s text, she is jailed for committing adultery and made to wear a scarlet “A” on her breast as a reminder of her crime. While imprisoned, Hester—who, as the daughter of a minister, is both familiar with and scornful of Puritan ways of thinking—teaches Tituba how to testify to doing witchcraft in such a way that she exonerates herself. Though Tituba feels the stirrings of sexual attraction to Hester, Hester commits suicide before Tituba can act on these feelings. By alluding to The Scarlet Letter and linking her own protagonist to the protagonist of that much earlier work, Condé suggests that there is a pattern to the misogyny and hypocrisy of Puritan life.

Hester Quotes in I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

The I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem quotes below are all either spoken by Hester or refer to Hester . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
).
Part 1: Chapter 8 Quotes

Lament for my lost child

The moonstone dropped into the water,

Into the waters of the river,

And my fingers couldn’t reach it,

Woe is me!

The moonstone has fallen.

Sitting on a rock on the riverbank,

I wept and I lamented.

Oh, softly shining stone,

Glimmering at the bottom of the water.

The hunter passed that way

With his bow and arrows.

“Why are you crying, my lovely one?”

“I’m crying because my moonstone

Lies at the bottom of the water.”

“If it is but that, my lovely,

I will help you.”

But the hunter died and was drowned.

Related Characters: Tituba (speaker), John Indian , Hester , Mama Yaya
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Chapter 2 Quotes

“What does Satan look like? Don't forget he has more than one disguise up his sleeve. That's why after all this time nobody's caught him yet. Sometimes he's a black man...”

There I interrupted her in a worried voice. “If I say that, won't they think of John Indian?”

She shrugged her shoulders irritably. Hester got irritated easily. “Don't talk to me about your wretched husband! He's no better than mine. Shouldn't he be here to share your sorrow? Life is too kind to men, whatever their color.”

Related Characters: Tituba (speaker), Hester (speaker), John Indian
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Chapter 7 Quotes

That night Hester lay down beside me, as she did sometimes. I laid my head on the quiet water-lily of her cheek and held her tight. Surprisingly, a feeling of pleasure slowly flooded over me. Can you feel pleasure from hugging a body similar to your own? For me, pleasure had always been in the shape of another body whose hollows fitted my curves and whose swellings nestled in the tender flatlands of my flesh. Was Hester showing me another kind of bodily pleasure?

Related Characters: Tituba (speaker), Hester
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem PDF

Hester Character Timeline in I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

The timeline below shows where the character Hester appears in I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Chapter 2
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
...prison, Tituba makes friends with her new cellmate, a beautiful, young, pregnant white woman named Hester. Hester asks questions about Tituba’s past, and she expresses her disgust at Salem society. When... (full context)
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Hester explains that she was forced into marriage with a man she despised, and that she... (full context)
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Tituba begins to tell the story of her life to Hester’s pregnant belly, and the two women lament the trouble men have brought into their lives.... (full context)
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Hester helps Tituba prepare her testimony for the court; “trust a minister’s daughter,” Tituba scoffs, “to... (full context)
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
...a “black man” (a common descriptor for the devil), suspicion will fall on John Indian. Hester has little patience for Tituba’s continued love for her husband, especially because both women know... (full context)
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Hester dreams of a model society, in which women can write books and give their children... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 3
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
...narration. When she is pressed to give more names, she fakes sudden blindness, just as Hester had instructed her to do. At the end of Tituba’s testimony, Parris congratulates her on... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 4
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
...husband. Yet John Indian seems to be getting along just fine, causing Tituba to recall Hester’s complaint that “life is too kind to men, whatever their color.” (full context)
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Back at the jail, Tituba requests to be placed with Hester, but she learns that Hester has hanged herself. In great pain, Tituba thinks of drowning... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 5
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Tituba thinks with sadness about the children she and Hester each aborted; she sings her old moonstone lament for them. Around the same time, Dorcas... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 7
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
That night, amidst dreams of Barbados, Tituba connects with Hester’s spirit and feels the stirrings of sexual longing. Tituba wonders if it is possible for... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 12
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
...to the soothing sounds of the frogs and birds on the island. In her dreams, Hester, Metahebel, and Benjamin sit around her bed. (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 13
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
...she helps save a dying baby, which makes her think of the babies she and Hester aborted. Then, a few weeks later, Tituba and Christopher become lovers, though she cannot quite... (full context)
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
...foliage. One day, she discovers an orchid in her backyard, and she names it after Hester(full context)
Part 2: Chapter 15
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
...to feel guilty, as the young boy could be her son. She also wonders if Hester was right; is she too fond of sex and love? As she falls asleep, she... (full context)
Epilogue
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Tituba’s only regret is that she can no longer commune with Hester, as each woman remains on her own side of the water. Though both continue to... (full context)