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 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
 Susanna is a bitter, cruel, and deeply racist woman. As soon as she meets Tituba, she gives her a list of tasks and orders her to convert to Christianity. John Indian acts like a child, dancing around and pleading with Susanna for two days off to celebrate his marriage. Susanna eventually grants the time off, but the whole exchange leaves Tituba feeling horrified.
It is not only white men who are capable of great brutality—Susanna shows that white women have their own forms of violence. And John Indian’s response is to play into Susanna’s expectations, a tactic that will continually baffle and frustrate Tituba.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Susanna claims not to believe in slavery, so she has sold all the other enslaved people on her plantation besides John Indian. Now, he lives in an “attractive” little colonial house on the Endicott plantation. Tituba is baffled by her new lover’s friendliness towards Susanna, but John explains that “the duty of a slave is to survive!”
Susanna’s belief system is patently hypocritical: she is a Christian who embodies no Christian values, and she does not believe in slavery unless it is convenient for her. More important, though, is John Indian’s insistence on “surviv[al]” as his primary purpose. Whereas Yao prioritized “will and imagination” above physical life, John Indian values his own flesh and blood above all.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Quotes
For two days, John and Tituba have passionate, satisfying sex; John also cooks delicious meals with tropical plants for Tituba. As soon as the two days are up, however, Susanna (who eats only bread and gruel) commands Tituba to start cleaning the main house at 6 a.m. At the end of the day, Tituba is on her way out of the house when she encounters Susanna and her friends having a tea party.
Here, again, tropical plants are a form of care and love; like sex, the fruits John feeds Tituba provide great bodily pleasure. Furthermore, the fact that Susanna eats bread and gruel, foods that don’t really fit in the ecosystem of Barbados, shows the unnaturalness of Susanna’s world.
Themes
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
The white women cruelly talk about Tituba as if she did not exist—making Tituba feel that “they were striking me off the map of human beings.” One of them suggests that Tituba is a witch. Tituba then complains about her situation to her mother’s spirit, and Abena recalls that while Yao was kind and respectful, she is not sure John Indian will be the same way. Tituba regrets that unlike the rest of the enslaved people in Barbados, she had entered Susanna Endicott’s home “of her own accord.”
As this exchange demonstrates, slavery attempts to dehumanize enslaved peoples in several ways. In addition to ignoring Tituba and making her feel as if she is literally on a separate planet (“off the map”), Susanna and her friends accuse Tituba of consorting with the devil. On the one hand, then, Susanna denies Tituba basic human courtesy, while on the other hand, she associates Tituba with the demonic.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Get the entire I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem LitChart as a printable PDF.
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem PDF
Both John and Susanna try to force Tituba to believe in Christianity and the Holy Trinity, but Tituba cannot find meaning in the words. Susanna humiliates Tituba, forcing her to recite prayers in English, which is not a language Tituba knows well. In one of these prayer sessions, Susanna asks Tituba about Abena and Mama Yaya. Susanna believes Mama Yaya is a witch.
In this section, conversion becomes another tool of colonialism; whereas Tituba wants to live in her own language and practice her own belief system, Susanna refuses to acknowledge the validity of Tituba’s culture, instead dismissing it as witchcraft.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Tituba tells John Indian about this exchange, and he panics, explaining that white people define witchcraft as dealing with Satan; Tituba has no idea what Satan even means. John tells Tituba that witches are burned at the stake in English colonies—and for the first night since they got married, they do not have sex. Tituba decides that Susanna Endicott has to die. 
How can Tituba be associated with Satan if she has never heard of him? Yet this bizarre conversation—and the divide it creates between Tituba and John—foreshadows the role foreign ideas about Satan will later play in their marriage.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon