I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

by Maryse Condé 
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In I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, refer to at least two passages in which Tituba dwells upon what it means to be a witch.

One passage in I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem in which Tituba explores what it means to be a witch comes when John Indian jokingly calls her a little witch. She wonders why being a witch should meet with such disapproval. In another passage, she reflects that in order to be a witch, one needs more than the knowledge of plants. It is also important that one is able to invoke and act upon unseen forces.

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One of the many remarkable characteristics of Tituba is her self-awareness. She knows that she is a “witch” and doesn't shy away from the consequences, even though many of the people she encounters regard witches with suspicion and downright hostility.

Tituba also has a capacity for self-reflection, which leads her...

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One of the many remarkable characteristics of Tituba is her self-awareness. She knows that she is a “witch” and doesn't shy away from the consequences, even though many of the people she encounters regard witches with suspicion and downright hostility.

Tituba also has a capacity for self-reflection, which leads her to muse on what it means to be a witch at several points in the story. On one such occasion, she's at a dance with John Indian. In order to attract him, she follows her mentor Mama Yaya's instructions and attempts to take a drop of blood from John and something that's been in contact with his skin.

To this end, she scratches his little finger and steals his handkerchief. John responds by saying,

Ow! What are you doing, little witch?

John's only joking, but his comments cause Tituba to reflect on why the word “witch” carries with it such disapproval. She doesn't understand why the ability to communicate with the invisible world, keep constant connections with the dead, and care for others should be regarded with such suspicion and hostility. On the contrary, these abilities should inspire respect, admiration, and gratitude.

Tituba reflects briefly on what it means to be a witch later on in the story when she sees local villagers in the forest collecting herbs and plants. She can tell by looking at their faces what they're up to; they want to do evil to other people.

But Tituba can only laugh at this. She knows full well that, in order to be a “witch,” it's not enough to have knowledge of plants. One must also have the power to invoke and act on unseen forces, which of their very nature are rebellious and thus need to be controlled. This is a vital part of being a “witch.”

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