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 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The “plague” of accusations spreads through more and more towns across Massachusetts, and so many people are accused that the jails run out of space. Tituba is forced out of her cell to make room for prisoners of higher status; all of the accused children are housed in a shoddily built thatched shack. Tituba learns that Rebecca Nurse has been arrested, and that Sarah Goode is still alive.
There is something almost humorously absurd in applying the same rigid rules of Puritan status even within overflowing jail cells. It is also telling that so many children have been accused—clearly, all of the most vulnerable members of society are being targeted.
Themes
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Desire, Patriarchy and the Difficulty of Feminism Theme Icon
Tituba thinks of Mama Yaya and her own survival, but this thought no longer cheers her; instead, she feels that time stretches “endlessly,” and she contemplates the idea that “human beings refuse to admit that they are beaten.” Stories start to spread that vindicate the accused women who have been executed: a sweet-smelling rose has grown in Rebecca Nurse’s grave, for example, and the judge who had accused Sarah Goode has himself suddenly died.
Though the tide is beginning to turn—and the residents of Salem are starting to feel some guilt about what they have done to people like Rebecca Nurse—Tituba is running out of hope. Unlike John Indian, who just wants to keep going, Tituba begins to question the value of life in a world so patently backwards and cruel.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Still, the accusations continue, and prominent farmer Giles Corey is stoned to death. Though Corey had testified against Tituba, she is still upset to hear of his death—especially because, rather than admit to witchcraft, Corey just kept asking for “more stones” to be placed on his chest. Tituba also learns that a former minister was arrested and accused.
Tituba’s feelings about Giles Corey, like her feelings about Rebecca Nurse, are mixed, because the people themselves are deeply flawed. Though both Nurse and Corey have principles they are willing to die for, they are also racially prejudiced—which shows just how completely pervasive anti-Blackness is in Salem.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Slavery and Daily Life  Theme Icon
Knowing that the situation is out of control, the governor of Massachusetts writes to England, asking for advice; the English write back to the colony suggesting a new kind of court system. Though this novel court system helps to calm the situation (or at least that’s what Tituba can understand from her cell), she is still too disillusioned to care much about this change.
The governor’s letter would be a major plot point in any traditional history of the Salem witch trials. But for Tituba, who is focused on lived, interior experience, such an event is almost beside the point; too much damage has already been done in her life, and the new system presumably won’t impact her life for the better.
Themes
Surviving vs. Enduring Theme Icon
Archival History vs. Memory Theme Icon
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