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 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tituba does not want to go on with her story, as she feels that it is “predictable.” But she continues anyway: Iphigene has planned well, staking out the various plantations and getting the necessary guns and fighters. The day before the attack, he confesses his attraction to Tituba, telling her he does not want to be thought of “as a son.” Tituba does not know how to respond, so instead she imagines her unborn daughter’s future, hoping that the child will “settle old scores” for her.
There are two big ideas in this passage. First, after sustaining an optimistic outlook for much of the novel, Tituba is starting to agree with Mama Yaya that “there’s no end to the misfortune of black folks.” And second, the sexual undertones in Tituba’s relationship with Iphigene parallel the connection between Abena and Yao, whose romance similarly felt familial at the start.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Quotes
That afternoon, Iphigene brings Tituba a rabbit to sacrifice. When she goes to kill the animal, however, she is horrified to find that it is rotting from the inside; in her shock, she drops the knife and cuts her own foot open. The smell of blood causes Tituba to think about Susanna Endicott, dying in a puddle of her own urine.
Usually, the natural world is a place of comfort and beauty for Tituba. So the fact that this rabbit is rotting—and the fact that Tituba is brought back to memories of Susanna—cannot be anything but a bad omen.
Themes
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
The spirits of Mama Yaya, Yao, and Abena return to comfort Tituba (and to chastise her, once again, for always focusing on men). Around 8 o’clock, Iphigene brings Tituba dinner. After they eat, Iphigene touches her, and they begin to make love; Tituba is surprised by the extent of her own desire. “Blessed is the love,” she muses, “that makes [man] forget he is a slave.”
Over and over again, Tituba has explained that because slavery is such a brutal institution, even her moments of happiness are undercut by fear. The fact that she is able to “forget” the fact of enslavement, then, even for a moment, testifies to the wonderful intensity of her union with Iphigene.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
After she and Iphigene have sex, Tituba begins to feel guilty, as the young boy could be her son. She also wonders if Hester was right; is she too fond of sex and love? As she falls asleep, she thinks about the members of the Parris family and John Indian, whom she has never gotten over. She wonders if Susanna Endicott is still trying to get her revenge, and if she is “more powerful.” But then Tituba feels her baby kick, and she is able to get some rest.
Rather than giving into Tituba’s self-doubt (about whether she desires men too much), the novel instead affirms the necessity of sexuality. Susanna and the Parris family had no patience with sex or desire—but the baby kicking within Tituba reminds readers that sexuality (including female desire) is the very bedrock of the future.
Themes
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem PDF
Tituba has another nightmare, in which the forest has turned against her. She realizes that the smoke in her dream is real, and that her cabin is burning; she and Iphigene have been betrayed. She is reminded of her time in New England, when the house she shared with Benjamin was set on fire.
Like the rabbit, the forest being set on fire represents a dramatic break in Tituba’s normal trust in nature. And as with her memories of the “three birds of prey,” Tituba’s flashback to the fire at Benjamin’s house signals how much she must still struggle to process the violent anti-Blackness she has experienced.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Nature as Knowledge Theme Icon
Since this was going to be the second major slave revolt in three years, the planters have English troops spy on all of the enslaved people on the island. Then the planters are able to round up every suspect Black person, taking them to a clearing filled with dozens of makeshift gallows. Iphigene is the first to be hanged, but before he is killed, Tituba promises him they will be together in the afterlife.
Though it is difficult to trace what Tituba describes to a particular historical event, there are definite similarities between this revolt and the First Maroon War (which took place in Jamaica). That war was led by Nanny, a legendary female Maroon rumored (like Tituba) to have supernatural powers. Also worth noting: though Tituba cannot make anyone immortal, she can give solace to Iphigene by promising him a reunion in the afterlife (as Mama Yaya once did for her).
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
As the slaveholders prepare to hang Tituba, they read out a list of her alleged crimes, focusing on the accusations of witchcraft. But they also blame her for the fire that destroyed the d’Azevedo home, which makes Tituba especially angry. Rather than contest the accusations, however, Tituba instead focuses on the afterlife, where she knows Mama Yaya, Yao, and Abena will be waiting for her and where “the light of truth burns bright and unrelenting.”
Tituba’s entire experience on earth, from Darnell Davis’s assault of Abena to the bogus trials in Salem, has been marked by injustice and untruth. It is difficult to overstate, then, the true joy of an afterlife where “truth burns bright”—especially when that afterlife also involves a reunion with all of Tituba’s most beloved figures.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon