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 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the week that she is in prison, Tituba makes friends with her new cellmate, a beautiful, young, pregnant white woman named Hester. Hester asks questions about Tituba’s past, and she expresses her disgust at Salem society. When Tituba admits that she is accused of witchcraft, Hester is shocked, knowing that Tituba can do no evil. Hester then explains that she is in jail for adultery, even though the man who impregnated her continues to roam free.
Hester is based on Hester Prynne, the (fictional) main character from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter; in that book, Hester is ostracized and forced to wear a scarlet “A” after it is revealed that she has committed adultery. By pairing Tituba and Hester, Condé highlights the feminist themes in her novel, zooming in on the sexual repression and hypocrisy that she believes defined early America.
Themes
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Hester explains that she was forced into marriage with a man she despised, and that she actively strove to abort all of their children with a variety of potions and home remedies. Tituba shares that she has done a similar thing. Bonded by their shared experiences, Hester confesses that she is still in love with the minister who got her pregnant. She also tells Tituba that she will likely be forced to wear a scarlet letter on her breast for the rest of her life, so that the whole town will always remember her as an adulterer and a pariah.
Like Tituba, Hester has tried to abort a child, and like Tituba, Hester struggles to balance her frustration with men with her lingering desire for a specific man. Rather than dismissing Hester’s sexual and romantic needs, however, Tituba takes them seriously, understanding that feminism must always consider female desire as a vital part of life.
Themes
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Tituba begins to tell the story of her life to Hester’s pregnant belly, and the two women lament the trouble men have brought into their lives. However, despite their increasing intimacy, Tituba does not tell Hester all of the details of her personal history.
Hester and Tituba are forming a friendship based in part on their shared plight as women in a repressive, patriarchal society—but Tituba has been continually betrayed by white women like Hester, which perhaps explains her hesitance to fully share.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Hester helps Tituba prepare her testimony for the court; “trust a minister’s daughter,” Tituba scoffs, “to know a thing or two about Satan.” In her coaching, Hester explains how Tituba should describe the (made-up) meetings of witches and encourages Tituba to “make them scared.” But Hester does not want Tituba to name too many names, because she does not want Tituba to stoop to the villagers’ level. Still, both women agree that it is alright to accuse Sarah Goode and Sarah Osborne, as they each directly betrayed Tituba.
Now, forced to choose between hewing entirely to her beliefs about personal integrity and her flesh-and-blood survival, Tituba is able to split the difference by naming only those women (Goode and Osborne) who have directly accused her.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Get the entire I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem LitChart as a printable PDF.
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem PDF
Tituba begins to worry that if she describes Satan as a “black man” (a common descriptor for the devil), suspicion will fall on John Indian. Hester has little patience for Tituba’s continued love for her husband, especially because both women know that John flirts with women of all races in Salem.
Just as Mary Sibley and Betsey Parris made it known that Blackness was seen as a concrete sign of Satan’s presence, Tituba now encounters the anti-Blackness baked into every aspect of the Puritans’ devil mythology. Tituba’s desire to protect herself by discussing Satan in terms that the Puritans understand is therefore in tension with her desire to protect the Black man she loves.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
Quotes
Hester dreams of a model society, in which women can write books and give their children their own last names. Though Tituba is on board with the ideas, Hester teases her that she loves love too much to ever be a “feminist.”
“Feminist” is an anachronism; that term did not exist until the 20th century. But in having Hester look towards the future and use the word “feminist,” Condé is giving readers a way to connect Tituba’s ideological questions more directly with their own.
Themes
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
But while Tituba appreciates this new friendship, she is still paralyzed by fear of her trial and hopelessness about what comes next. Most of all, she is reminded of the fact that even if she returns to Barbados, there will still be slavery. On February 29th, Tituba, Sarah Goode, and Sarah Osborne are released from prison to return to Salem for their trial. The entire way home, Sarah Goode harasses Tituba. 
Salem is frightening for women like Sarah Goode and Sarah Osborne, but if they can make it through the accusations, they will return to freedom. The same is not true for Tituba, who faces near-certain enslavement in any of the places she has ever called home. Even among people who are similarly accused, then, it is difficult for Tituba to feel real solidarity or solace.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon