In The Crucible who does Mrs. Putnam blame for the death of three of her children?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In act 1, Reverend Hale, Thomas Putnam, and Reverend Parris interrogate Tituba, who becomes a scapegoat after Abigail Williams accuses her of colluding with the devil and sending her spirit on her during church services. Once the blame shifts to Tituba, the local authority figures begin pressuring her to name other citizens involved in witchcraft and influence Tituba to name Sarah Good and Goody Osburn.

Immediately after Tituba accuses Goody Osburn of colluding with the devil and being involved in witchcraft, Mrs. Putnam responds by saying that she knew all along that Goody Osburn was involved in witchcraft after she was her midwife three times and lost all three of her babies. Mrs. Putnam mentions that she always feared Goody Osburn and that her "babies always shriveled in her [Goody Osburn's] hands!" Therefore, Mrs. Putnam blames Goody Osburn for the deaths of three of her children. The other four babies who did not survive infancy were under Rebecca Nurse's care, which is why Mrs. Putnam is particularly suspicious of her. Mrs. Putnam also resents Rebecca Nurse for having eleven children and twenty-six grandchildren.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I am glad that you put in the part about "three of her children."  The specificity is good, because the answer changes with that added information.  

Ann Putnam has lost seven total children.  She has one surviving child.  That child is Ruth.  Rebecca Nurse was Ann Putnam's midwife for all of those births, so Ann Putnam is a bit suspicious of Rebecca Nurse.  Putnam is also slightly resentful of Nurse, because Rebecca Nurse has successfully given birth to many children and has many grandchildren.  

However, Ann Putnam does openly lay the blame for three of her children's deaths on Goody Osburn.  Tituba is being interviewed (interrogated) about her involvement with the girls, and I believe that Tituba simply names some names to get the attention and blame off of herself.  She names Goody Osburn a witch, and Ann Putnam jumps on it as Gospel truth.  Putnam deeply desires to put blame on somebody for the deaths of her children, and Goody Osburn is as good as the next.  Goody Osburn even helped with three of Putnam's failed births.   

Mrs. Putnam: I knew it! Goody Osburn were midwife to me three times. I begged you, Thomas, did I not? I begged him not to call Osburn because I feared her. My babies always shriveled in her hands!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial