In Act 1 of The Crucible, why did Mrs. Putnam contact Tituba?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act one, the Putnams visit Parris's home in order to discuss the rumors involving witchcraft throughout the community and witness Betty's condition. During a conversation between Reverend Parris and Mrs. Putnam, she explains to him that she sent her daughter to Tituba, who can communicate with the dead. Mrs. Putnam has lost seven children and sent Ruth to Tituba in order to conjure their spirits. Tituba, who is from Barbados, attempts to speak with Mrs. Putnam's dead children in hopes of learning how and why they were murdered. This news shocks Reverend Parris and confirms that some type of sorcery was practiced that night in the forest. Mrs. Putnam also believes that Ruth was close to "darkness," which explains why she is incapacitated. Tituba then becomes the first person accused of witchcraft in the play.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This part of the play comes in Act I just after the Reverend Hale has arrived in Salem to offer his expertise to sort out what has been happening. When Mrs. Putnam accuses Tituba of being able to conjure, she needs to offer some form of proof to back up her claim. When she does so, it is proof that she herself has contacted Tituba to ask her to perform a spell so that she can know who killed her seven babies who all died. Note what she confesses to:

I sent my child--she should learn from Tituba who murdered her sisters.

Rebecca Nurse responds in horror to this, as what Mrs. Putnam did was to send her daughter to commune with the dead spirits of her sisters, who all died in childbirth. Mrs. Putnam therefore contacted Tituba before in order to try and learn why her daughters all died.

cav13976 | Student

Mrs Putnam has had seven babies die before they were baptized and although now we would associate that with a medical infertillity problem, back then they blamed the devil. So she blamed 'witches' like Rebecca Nurse for this.

After her only living daughter Ruth ends up in a similar condition to Betty Nurse, she tries to talk to Tituba to discover why her babies die and if she has the power to stop it.