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 2: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Tituba arrives in Bridgetown, Barbados, she is gratified to be greeted by the spirits of Mama Yaya, Abena, and Yao. But the city itself is rainy and crowded, and Tituba no longer feels the same affection for it that she once did (it now appears “small” and “petty,” “a colonial outpost of no distinction”). She takes in a group of bossales at a horrifying slave auction and passes by Susanna Endicott’s house, which makes her again long for John Indian.
Tituba’s world has been reshaped by her time in America—though Barbados still feels like home, it no longer appears to be the center of the world as it once did. Moreover, slavery and the slave trade are much more present here than they are in Salem, as can be seen in the group of bossales (African-born people who’ve been enslaved and brought to the New World).
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
After longing to go home for so many years, Tituba realizes that she no longer knows anyone on the island, and she is about to despair—until she runs into Deodatus and some of his female friends. The group invites her to go live with them in Belleplaine, on the other side of the island. Tituba is encouraged by the beautiful tropical plants and bird songs she encounters on the journey.
Tellingly, in a moment of panic, Tituba finds solace in community (Deodatus and his friends) and nature—the two things that Mama Yaya instructed her to love.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
When Tituba asks what plantation Deodatus works on, he explains that he does not work on any plantation. Instead, he and his friends are maroons, meaning they are formerly enslaved people who have escaped to the hills. He was inspired to do this by the legend of Ti-Noel, a maroon who “had been living in everyone’s imagination for so long that he must have been an old man by now.” When the English tried to enlist slaves as soldiers against the French, Deodatus refused, instead heading for the mountains.
There are two critical points in this passage. First, this is the first mention of maroons, a force that was growing in numbers and power at the end of the 17th century. Second, Ti-Noel’s legacy lies in shared stories and communal “imagination,” extending his life and letting him endure in the minds of those that admire him.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Quotes
Tituba is blindfolded and taken to the maroon camp, but she has mixed feelings about entering yet another conflict; all she really wants is peace. Still, she greets the maroons (there are about 15 of them in total), and she tells them about her life in Salem and the horrors she endured.
Because her whole world (and beyond) has been infected by colonialism and anti-Blackness, Tituba is beginning to realize that her desire to live peacefully and quietly is impossible unless she engages in some kind of conflict first.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
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Christopher, the leader of the maroons, asks Tituba if she does have powers, and she explains that she does, but that she only uses them for good. Later that night, Christopher comes to Tituba’s hut and asks her to make him invincible, like Ti-Noel is in the legend. Christopher tells Tituba that if she can make him bulletproof, he will sleep with her and fulfill all her desires for him.
The previous chapter showed that Tituba was not all-powerful, but Christopher has bought into the legends about her (many of which are highly prejudicial). And once again, desire complicates what could exist as a largely political or familial relationship.
Themes
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Tituba explains to Christopher that “death is a door that nobody can lock,” and she fights her desire for him; Abena’s spirit also weighs in, opining that Tituba wants Christopher’s cause more than his body. Reflecting that “nature changes her language according to the land,” Tituba falls asleep to the soothing sounds of the frogs and birds on the island. In her dreams, Hester, Metahebel, and Benjamin sit around her bed.
In this crucial passage, Tituba reflects that though it is possible for her to maintain contact with the afterlife, it is not possible for her to stop death or change the future in any way. Even more importantly, Tituba once more affirms that the nature she feels so close to changes dramatically based on where in the world she actually is—thus showing how much an environment has the capacity to shape the people within it.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Quotes