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The Putnams function, in part and importantly, to provide evidence that the accusations and subsequent trials in Salem are motivated by tensions and conflicts that existed before Betty Parris takes to her bed and before Reverend Hale comes to town.
In the first act, the Putnams feelings toward Rebecca Nurse and their contentious attitude regarding land holdings are clearly articulated. These tensions later take shape in formal accusations against Goody Nurse and others in Salem.
Bolstered by the lies of Abigail and the other girls, the Putnams take advantage of the divisive situation in Salem to act upon old grudges and greed.
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