illustration of a woman in a black dress with long black hair swimming down through the water toward a smaller human figure

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

Start Free Trial

In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Nat tells Kit a story of a bird he saw in a marketplace in Jamaica. He tells Kit, "Funny thing, that morning when we left you here in Wethersfield—all the way back to the ship all I could think of was the bird." How is Nat comparing Kit to the bird?

In this part of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Nat is comparing Kit to the bird by noting that both Kit and the bird are likely to be scolded by others in New England for their differing appearances. Nat describes the bird as having "bright scarlet patches," and when she arrives in New England, Kit is wearing a scarlet cloak, which is seen as "gaudy" by the Puritans.

Expert Answers

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

In chapter 12, Kit tells Nat that she feels like she doesn’t fit in since moving from Barbados, the tropical island where she grew up and had a lot of freedom, to the Puritan community of Wethersfield, where everyone seems glum and there are so many rules she doesn’t understand.

That’s when Nat tells her the story of the bird he saw for sale in the marketplace in Jamaica. Like other tropical birds, its feathers were vividly colored. The bird was yellow-green with “bright scarlet patches.” Nat said he was thinking of buying the bird as a present for his grandmother who lives in the New England town of Saybrook until his father told him it wasn’t meant to live there, because the other birds would “scold and peck at it.”

When Kit first steps on shore in New England in chapter 1, she’s wearing a scarlet cloak. She thinks the other women are staring disapprovingly at her because her hair is untidy. However, from what we learn later on in the book, it seems clear they dislike her on sight because most Puritans, like Kit's Uncle Matthew, don’t approve of "gaudy" clothes.

Later on in chapter 1, Kit is described as wearing a green dress, making her seem even more like the bird Nat described.

Nat can't stop thinking about the bird on his way back to the ship, because he's already seen how the Puritans traveling from Saybrook to Wethersfield dislike and distrust Kit due to her being different. The difference isn't just in her clothes, but also her actions. She's impulsive and defiant. She jumps into the water to save Prudence's doll, proving that she can swim, unlike the other passengers on the boat. The Puritans believe that only witches can float upon entering the water. In fact, the last thing Nat tells her before he leaves her at the door of her aunt and uncle's house is, "Only the guilty ones stay afloat."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team