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: Part 1: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Though Dr. Griggs and Tituba had often worked together to help various residents of Salem, now he, too, has turned against her. When Griggs goes to investigate the situation, he asks Betsey and Abigail to take off their clothes, which is very difficult for both of them. However, Griggs sees no marks of witchcraft on their bodies. He therefore asks Parris to bring in a more qualified expert to consult with.
Dr. Griggs is one more person who turns on Tituba when she is no longer a convenient ally, reflecting the town’s racist mob mentality. Also worth noting is the continued discomfort with female nudity; even in a non-sexual context, Betsey and Abigail struggle to show their natural forms.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Parris again threatens Tituba with hanging, and she tells him to accuse Mary Sibley, not her; she then reflects that “I had begun to behave like an animal up against a wall, biting and scratching whoever she can.” Tituba reflects that these accusations are taking over the entire village, as parents fear for their children and servants panic. Even Parris feels the situation is out of his control, and he resolves to seek help in Boston.
The general climate of panic grows, as even Tituba—normally so in control of herself—feels that she is acting against her better instincts. Moreover, since there is no logic behind these accusations, no one is safe; anybody could be accused or an accuser, adding to the sense of doom.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Tituba runs to the Putnam household, recalling that Goodwife Putnam often has visions of demons. Currently, her daughter Anne is having a fit in which she claims to see the devil in front of her. All of the villagers take this young child seriously, except for Sarah Goode, who makes a joke out of it.
Sarah Goode is one of the poorest residents in the town, and so she is often treated as a pariah. Here, her sense of otherness allows her some clarity on the absurdity of the situation—but it also makes her vulnerable to attack.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
One by one, the women of the town begin to accuse Tituba of witchcraft; only the mild-mannered Elizabeth Proctor stands up for her. When Tituba responds to the accusations with a taunt of her own, the white residents become more explicitly racist in their shouts.
It is clear here that Tituba is singled out not so much for her actions as she is for the color of her skin. It is also worth catching the mention of Elizabeth Proctor, the heroine and moral center of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem PDF
Tituba reflects on the hypocrisy of Salem, “a community that stole, cheated, and burgled while wrapping itself in the cloak of god’s name.” Desperate to connect with Mama Yaya and Abena, and fed up with her neighbors, Tituba steals a sheep to sacrifice. At last, Mama Yaya appears, ensuring Tituba that though the hardship will continue, she will be “the only one to survive.”
Interestingly, Mama Yaya’s use of the word “survive” means something slightly different than when John uses it. The vast majority of people survived the Salem witch trials—indeed, only 19 people were ultimately executed. But Mama Yaya seems to suggest here that Tituba will be the “only one to survive” as herself, with all her goodness and integrity intact; the rest may live on, but they will do so having compromised themselves.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
As Tituba heads home, she is stopped by Sarah Hutchinson, whose sheep she had stolen. Goodwife Hutchinson implores Tituba to use witchcraft to find and punish the person who has taken the sheep. Tituba scolds her for this impulse, and Goodwife Hutchinson responds by telling Tituba she will be hanged. Tituba “shivers” at the idea of death, reflecting on the fact that despite her connection to the spirit world, death is still something that frightens her.
Tituba knows that there is life after death; after all, her most constant companions are Mama Yaya, Yao, and Abena, all in their spirit forms. But the tension between that understanding and Tituba’s real desire to continue earthly life is a recurrent problem for her (especially whenever she is in immediate danger).
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Quotes