How does the work ethic of the Puritans affect Kit, and help her grow in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One of the really interesting historical aspects of this novel is the way that the author describes the hard work that life involved in those days just to survive. For Kit especially, arriving from Barbados where she had her own maid and had to do none of this work, it comes as a real revelation to her to see how her aunt and cousins live and the monotonous tasks and physical labour that they, of necessity, must engage in. In a sense, we as readers are placed in the same position as Kit, as we come to realise how hard life was back then and how much hard work it involved. Consider the following quote:

By the end of that first day the word useful had taken on an alarming meaning. Work in that household never ceased, and it called for skill and patience, qualities Kit did not seem to possess. There was meat to be chopped, and vegetables to prepare for the mid-day meal. The pewter mugs had to be scoured with reeds and fine sand. There was a great kettle of soap boiling over a fire just behind the house, and all day long Judith and her mother took turns stirring it with a long stick.

At first, Kit shows herself to be incredibly inept in all of these tasks, yet gradually, bit by bit, she learns to master them and begins to learn the much bigger and harder lesson of patience, which was essential to all of these smaller tasks. Thus Kit begins to see the value of hard work and above all learns the patience that is necessary to do these jobs well.

giveintofate's profile pic

giveintofate | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Well I don't have a book for quotes but...

I'd say Kit is really shown what it is like to actually work. She appreciates her free time more because she can't take it for granted. She steals away as much time as she can, and does not waste it by being lazy, but she teaches Penelope to read/write and she also keeps Widow Tupper company.


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