I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

by Maryse Condé 

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What does Condé convey about Tituba through her relationships with John, Benjamin, Christopher, and Iphigene in I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem?

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Tituba's relationships with John Indian, Benjamin Cohen d'Azevedo, Christopher, and Iphigene reveal how much Tituba wants love and connection. She tends to trust more than she should and to invest herself in relationships that end in disappointment and betrayal.

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In Maryse Conde's I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem , Tituba is a woman who wants love more than anything else. She has had very little of it in her life. Her mother dies when Tituba is only seven, executed before Tituba's own eyes. Another mother figure, Mama Yaya, dies...

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when Tituba is fourteen. She continues to interact with the spirits of both women, and they try to guide her, but in her search for human connections, she doesn't always listen.

Tituba marries John Indian, a slave, and when he is sold to Samuel Parris in Salem, Tituba goes with her husband. But John is somewhat self-serving, and he tells her to confess to witchcraft to save her life. When she does, he refuses to support her and leaves her entirely, starting an affair with another woman. Tituba's search for love has failed.

After the trials are over and Tituba is freed, a man by the name Benjamin Cohen d'Azevedo buys her. Benjamin is a Jewish widower, and he and Tituba share a sense of being outcasts from the community. They eventually begin a romantic relationship, but when Benjamin moves to Rhode Island after a devastating fire, he refuses to take Tituba with him. He frees her from slavery and sends her back to Barbados. Tituba is rejected once again.

In Barbados, Tituba meets Christopher, a revolutionary, and begins a relationship with him, even conceiving a child. But they cannot make their relationship work, and Christopher eventually betrays Tituba to the authorities. Again, Tituba fails to find love.

The last young man Tituba enters into a relationship with is quite different. He is Iphigene, and he was severely injured in a whipping. Tituba nurses him and comes to love him as a son. But Iphigene is also a revolutionary, and Tituba helps him in his plot. They are both caught due to Christopher's betrayal and executed.

Through all of these relationships, Tituba reveals her desire for love and connection. She also shows that she is a trusting person, perhaps often too trusting. She wants to believe that people love her and care about her even when they really don't. She is willing to invest herself in a relationship, but she loses much when she does, eventually even her life.

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