In The Crucible, if the two-man patrol found someone who was not acting correctly at the meeting house or in the fields, what did the patrol do?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Presumably, if the patrol or the "authorities" found someone in derelict of the law, the person in question would be turned over to the authorities in Salem.  Yet, Miller makes it clear in his initial stage directions, that this does not become the ultimate punishment.  The real punishment in Salem is the idea that individuals become the subject of social gossip and innuendo.  The "predilection" that Miller alludes to of people in Salem not minding their own business, but rather seeking to control the interests of others through gossip and through social malignment is the real punitive measure in the Salem community.  This means, that if the patrol found someone acting outside of the norm, the legal ramifications would almost be secondary to the social one.  Punishment, in Salem, was through the ruining of one's reputation.  It is this element that ends up making the accusations so powerful in the town, something that Abigail recognizes in making the accusations that she does and something that others recognize themselves and follow.  Salem's real punishment is not legal, but social and personal.  It is here where the court of Danforth and Hathorne are criticized, for when the legal system becomes victim to personality and subjective preference, no hope for justice can exist.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the Overture, Miller elaborates on the austere nature of Salem's community, where the citizens are religious fanatics and go out of their way to maintain pristine reputations. The overwhelming majority of citizens are dedicated, hardworking individuals, who have no time to fool around. However, there are a few misguided citizens, as in any society, which is why a two-man patrol travels throughout Salem's community giving an account of each citizen's behavior in the fields and meeting house. The two-man patrol would then record the behaviors of any citizen not working and present it to the magistrates, who would deal with each citizen accordingly. Miller mentions that this "predilection for minding other people’s business" played a significant role in the witch trials. In Salem's community, citizens were essentially brought up keeping a close watch on their neighbors, and they publicly spy on one another to maintain a structured, organized society.