How did Kit offend Nat, in Chapter 2 of The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 2, Kit unwittingly offends Nat by calling the Dolphin a "filthy ship".

The incident takes place not long after Kit and Nat first meet.  They come from completely different backgrounds, and do not yet know each other well enough to see things from the other's perspective.  Sailing is pretty much Nat's life, and he loves the Dolphin.  His father has worked hard to secure and maintain the vessel by transporting horses and other goods.  In his anger, Nat tells Kit that if his father had consented to bringing back "just one load of slaves", victims in an institution that Kit unthinkingly condones, on one of their journeys, he would have had enough money to buy a new ketch by the summer.  The Eatons are proudly anti-slavery, however, and insists on taking on only honest cargo in their trade.

Kit, on her part, had not meant to "insult (Nat's) precious ship".  The boat has been stranded in still waters for many days, and Kit, who has already just discovered that swimming is considered taboo for women in Puritan America, is not used to being cooped up for so long and is chafing in frustration at the situation.  Without even thinking that her words might be hurtful, she exclaims to Nat that she envies his freedom to "get into (the) water and away from (the) filty ship even for a moment".  When Nat responds in anger, Kit is surprised; it is clear that she has a lot to learn about the people and their ways in her soon-to-be new homeland (Chapter 2).

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

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