In "The Witch of Blackbird Pond", what was John's ''proper use of reading''?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to John Holbrook, "the proper use of reading is to improve our sinful nature, and to fill our minds with God's holy word".

John Holbrook is a staunch Puritan, is traveling to Wethersfield to study under the famous Reverend Bulkeley, a scholar in medicine as well as theology.  He had hoped to study divinity at Harvard, but "the Lord didn't see fit to provide the money"; John is extremely grateful to have the chance instead to study under the tutelage of Bulkeley, whom he calls a "learned teacher".

In John's experience, women didn't necessarily know how to read, and he is at first surprised that Kit has the skill to read his difficult text, and then appalled when she tells him that she used to read "history, and poetry, and plays" with her Grandfather.  John, who believes that reading should be used exclusively for studying religious works, looks at the type of material Kit has read as secular; a waste of time at best and a danger to proper spiritual formation at worst.  He says, "there are no such books in Saybrook...in Boston, perhaps", and reproves Kit for using her ability to read for unworthy purposes (Chapter 2).

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

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