I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

by

Maryse Condé

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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem: Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tituba has finished her “bitter” story, but she wants readers to know that Christopher was incorrect—“there is a song about Tituba!” She hears this song in the plants rustling and in the mouths of children and “wherever” else she goes. From the afterlife, Tituba continues to heal and cure. But she also now works to encourage revolution, “nourishing” Black men and women with “dreams of liberty.” Indeed, she claims to be behind every slave revolt since the mid-1700s.
In this essential epilogue, Tituba corrects two records: both the archival one, which minimizes her role, and the masculinist oral history that Christopher tried to present. Instead, by talking about her “song,” Tituba emphasizes that despite her death, she lives on in the memories and liberation efforts of her community. And readers of this novel, too, are listening to Tituba’s “song” (and thus extending her spiritual life).
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Tituba explains that she has no need for the written word: “my people will keep my memory in their hearts.” But because she was never able to have a baby, she is able to choose a spiritual descendant. After much thought, Tituba decides to adopt a young woman named Samantha. From the afterlife, Tituba teaches Samantha how to use tropical plants to heal and change minds, and the two meet up late at night (a time Tituba has taught Samantha to love).
After fretting for years about not being written about, Tituba now finds peace and joy by embracing this more relational model of legacy. Though it is not directly addressed, it can be argued that Tituba’s spiritual adoption of Samantha also helps her to heal from the loss of two children (one aborted, one killed by white soldiers while still in utero).
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Tituba reflects that in the afterlife, she is never alone; she is joined by the spirits of Mama Yaya, Yao, Abena, and Iphigene. But more than that, Tituba has at last “become one” with Barbados itself, in a kind of “extraordinary symbiosis.” Her affection for the landscape of the island stands in stark contrast to her distaste for the “vast, cruel land” of America, where she rightly predicts that anti-Blackness will only grow more pervasive and more brutal with time.
Tituba always knew that death would bring new knowledge—and sure enough, in the afterlife, Tituba feels that there is no longer any divide between herself and nature (there is only “extraordinary symbiosis”). Her reflection on the harsh climate of North America, however, once more shows that “nature changes her language according to the land.”
Themes
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory 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 work for the rights of women, Tituba still craves the love of men—and every so often, she slips into the bed of a living man to satisfy her desires.
On the one hand, Tituba’s continued fondness for Hester symbolizes her desire for feminist (or proto-feminist) solidarity. But at the same time, Tituba continues to feel desire and seek out pleasure, showing that her view of female liberation includes (and even emphasizes) sex.
Themes
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
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Tituba reflects that she now knows “why there is so much suffering and why the eyes of our people are brimming with water and salt.” But she also believes there will be an end to this pain, though not in the immediate future. Still, she has hope—after all, “what is one life in relation to the immensity of time?”
The mention of “water” and “salt” here can be seen as a symbolic reference to the profound trauma of the Middle Passage, as African men and women were captured, enslaved, and brought across the saltwater of the Atlantic. 
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Sometimes, Tituba cannot save the people around her; just a week earlier, a young bossale girl had successfully committed suicide after a number of failed attempts. But often, she is able to prevent these tragedies by reminding young, enslaved people that one day, the beautiful island, with “furrows of yams and patches of cassava,” will belong to them.
Despite the tragedy and violence that is around her every day, Tituba continues to find comfort in her lush, tropical environment. And even more importantly, with the mention of “furrows and yams and patches of cassava,” Tituba models a new kind of call to action: one in which Black folks in Barbados, most of whom had been enslaved in her lifetime, tend the ground of their island—and in doing so, begin to create a more hopeful future for themselves.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Finally, Tituba confesses that sometimes she changes into mortal form. In these moments, she will become a rooster in a cock fight, because she loves to “give the slave the excitement of winning!” Or she will become a goat and play with Samantha. She is proud that the young girl can now recognize her presence in “the crackling of a fire between four stones, the rainbow-hued babbling of the river, and the sound of the wind as it whistles through the great trees on the hills.”
In addition to living on in the memories of her community, here, Tituba links two of the major themes of the novel together, suggesting that she lives on in the very natural world itself. In this beautiful closing passage, then, Condé reveals that the care Tituba has shown the natural world has always been about loving and protecting her community—for now and for the future. 
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Quotes