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What do these two quotes from The Crucible  mean and how does it relate to...

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gner8r | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 3, 2009 at 8:18 PM via web

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What do these two quotes from The Crucible  mean and how does it relate to belonging?

abigail: "A wild thing may say wild things. But not so wild, I think. I have seen you since she put me out; I have seen you nights"

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proctor: "Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby."

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 7, 2009 at 7:05 AM (Answer #1)

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Abigail's comments are a defense for her wild behavior, she has violated her Puritan beliefs by having a adulterous affair with a married man.  In Puritan society, a young woman is expected to remain chaste until she is married.  So Abbey is identifying herself as a wild thing, and therefore, what she says should not be considered shocking or inappropriate.  She was orphaned when her parents were murdered right in front of her by savage Indians.  Their heads were smashed as they slept on the pillows next to her.  She has been exposed to violence and believes that her innocence was lost when her parents were slaughtered.

She is not like the other Puritan girls, she is engaging in risky adult behavior with John Proctor, and won't apologize for it.  She is also saying to Proctor that she belongs to him, her words are not so crazy, they did share a passion for each other, she did not imagine that, even if he insists that he has not been outside her window looking at her window with passionate longing. 

Abbey needs to belong, and she has set her sights on John Proctor as the man she longs to cling to for protection, love and a sense of value.

Proctor, for his part, admits that he does reflect on their time together, when they were lovers, but he is completely and totally done with cheating on his wife.  He is committed to Elizabeth and he will not surrender to temptation again.  No matter what she says or does, he will resist.

For Proctor, with his great determination to remain faithful to his wife, he wants to believe in his heart that the affair he had with Abbey never happened.  For Proctor, the affair is in the past, Abbey does not belong with him, he belongs with Elizabeth and he will remain at her side no matter what he feels for Abigail.

 

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