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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

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What changes does Kit observe in the family after John Holbrook's arrival in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

Quick answer:

When John Holbrook arrives, Aunt Rachel suggests they make popcorn. She thinks of him as a potential suitor to Kit. As they are eating popcorn, Kit notices the different reactions of all the family members and the guests. She is especially struck by her aunt’s effect on William, who opens up and converses without his usual self-consciousness. Both William and John end up in a political argument with Uncle Matthew.

Expert Answers

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Before John Holbrook comes to call, William has already arrived at the Woods’ house to pay a call on Kit (chapter 7). Aunt Rachel thinks that has also come to see Kit, and suggests that they pop corn to eat during the visit. When the family sits together to snack on the popcorn, Kit looks around and makes observations about the family members and the guests. Both Judith and Mercy are bright and lively in John’s presence. What strikes Kit as remarkable is the effect that her aunt has on William, who is generally reticent. Aunt Rachel asks just the right questions to draw him out. The conversation flows smoothly until William and Uncle Mathew start to talk about colonial land policy.

Kit is astonished to realize how smart and knowledgeable William is. Because he had always been shy, she had concluded that he was “dim-witted.” She listens intently to his views on the likely dangers of opposing the king. He especially gains her respect by standing up to her uncle, who grows angry upon hearing his own views challenged. This anger only intensifies when he turns to Holbrook for support, and instead hears more arguments against his position. The presence of John and William together helps change Kit’s mind about the merits of both men.

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