Tituba, to her surprise, realizes that she is pregnant. Although she is not happy about the fact that Christopher is the father, she is very excited to have a baby, and she immediately begins to take care of herself and her unborn child. She also decides that if she is to bring a baby into the world, she needs to first make the world a better place.
The fact that Tituba receives the news of her pregnancy with joy this time—instead of feeling that she needs to protect the baby by aborting it—indicates a changed outlook on life. Though there is still tremendous cruelty, Tituba now seems more hopeful and more determined to survive.
Soon after, an enslaved man named Iphigene who has been beaten by a white overseer is brought to Tituba’s door; he is on the verge of death, and she is the only one who can heal him. Using toad spit, Tituba is able to bring Iphigene back into consciousness. When he revives, he mistakes Tituba for his dead mother, and a strong friendship forms.
Once more, Tituba’s natural knowledge comes to the fore as she brings yet another person back from near-death. Iphigene’s mistaken belief that Tituba is his mother also models a way in which the dead can live on after death—Iphigene recalls his beloved parent through his relationship with Tituba.
Tituba learns that Iphigene’s father is the famed Ti-Noel; his mother was enslaved, and like Abena, she was raped and killed by white slaveholders. This shared trauma—and Iphigene’s youthful beauty—prompts Tituba to ask him if he has ever thought about inciting a rebellion against the white plantation owners. Iphigene replies that many people on the island will follow Tituba if she leads a revolt; he, personally, is ready to burn everything to the ground.
Iphigene’s suggestion that Tituba is influential enough to lead a large-scale revolt reveals just how much she has become a fixture of her community in Barbados. For the first time, in other words, it appears that Tituba might become a legendary figure like Ti-Noel, capable of living on in “imaginations” as he does.
Iphigene begins to plan this revolt. Though she supports the idea, Tituba takes a backseat to the actual planning, wanting instead to focus on her pregnancy. But when Tituba learns that Iphigene intends to kill white children, she is dismayed: “do we have to become like them?” Iphigene seems to think there is no other way.
The central question of the novel gets a new layer here: to make the world better—to ensure not only her child’s survival but her success—does Tituba first have to participate in some of the violence she so abhors? Interestingly, Iphigene’s outlook on this question is more flexible than Mama Yaya’s—but also much more community-oriented than John Indian’s selfish view.
Iphigene also asks Tituba to go to Christopher to prevent the maroons from interfering; he explains that the maroons actually benefit from a “tacit agreement” with the planters, and so they are likely to spy on or stop any slave revolts. Tituba gets Christopher to promise to stay out of things, and Iphigene announces the massacre is planned for four days’ time.
Condé draws on history here: in real life, maroons sometimes did reach secret agreements with white slaveholders, protecting themselves at the expense of enslaved people’s safety and freedom.
That night, Tituba dreams that Christopher, John Indian, and Samuel Parris come into her room like “three birds of prey” and assault her. She wakes up to Iphigene comforting her. But when Tituba wants to consult the spirits for guidance, Iphigene gets frustrated. He believes that the future can only be shaped “through actions,” not through communication with the invisible world.
Iphigene is focused on changing the future, but Tituba also seems to understand the need to heal from the past—especially given how much trauma she has both lived through and inherited from her mother. In particular, Tituba’s memories of the “birds of prey” demonstrate the extent to which this moment of sexual violence continues to haunt and disturb her.
Nevertheless, Tituba gets in touch with Yao, Abena, and Mama Yaya to ask if the slave revolt is coming at a good time. All three are pessimistic, and Mama Yaya opines that “there’s no end to the misfortune of black folks.” That night, Tituba ventures to a garden of tropical plants, and she prays as hard as she can.
Mama Yaya’s pessimistic outlook is based on the reality of the lives she, Yao, Abena, and Tituba have lived. In a fundamentally colonial, white supremacist, violent world, it is difficult for even a healer like Mama Yaya to promise hope.