Personal Identity vs. Duty
Given Kit’s age, and the fact that she is entering a new community at the same time as she loses her known family and becomes an adult, there is no surprise that much of The Witch of Blackbird Pond is concerned with the question of “Who am I?” However, this is not a simple coming of age novel, in which the heroine is allowed to answer such questions freely. Kit, and all the characters in The Witch of Blackbird Pond, must answer that question in tension with another question: “Who should I be?” In other words, personal identity must be negotiated in relation to duty. While Kit experiences this most strikingly, because she is new to the community, all characters must resolve this tension. Kit works hard to accept the duties dictated to her by her family and community, but eventually she decides that her chosen duties to Hannah and Prudence, in which she takes responsibility for both the older and younger generation, is more important than the limits placed on her. Kit accepts this responsibility so fully that she is willing to risk her life to fulfill it. The depth of Kit’s connection to Nat Eaton is indicated through his willingness to make similar commitments: Nat returns to help Kit even though he has been banished from the community and would be whipped for being there. Others in the community struggle similarly with these warring forces. John Holbrook is so committed to doing what his teacher and the community think are right that he is paralyzed politically—and nearly marries a woman he does not love (Judith) because her family has already been given the impression that he is going to do so. Finally, just as the different individuals must figure out how to answer both questions at the same time, so must the colony as a whole. Are they loyal subjects of the crown? Or are they independent? In either case, what does this mean?
Continuity and Change
Another theme throughout the novel is how the past lingers, and how often it guides, shapes, or interferes with the present and even the future. Hannah Tupper provides one of the clearest examples of this. She herself is, of course, quite old and is a living remnant of another age. However, the presence of her beloved but departed husband is forever returning—in memory, in reference, or in the slips of focus that Hannah is prone to. In a similar fashion, Kit’s memory of her...
(The entire section is 2168 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Witch of Blackbird Pond Themes. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!