What are four conflicts between the Putnams and the Nurses in Acts 1 and 2 of "The Crucible"?
In Act One, in one of his authorial intrusions, Arthur Miller explains how Francis Nurse acquired his land and status: by renting and purchasing the property bit by bit, he was able to increase his acreage exponentially and raise his social status in the process. Apparently, many resented his rise, especially when Nurse ended up in a land dispute with his neighbors, one of whom was a Putnam. "This squabble grew to the proportions of a battle in the woods between partisans of both sides, and it is said to have lasted two days."
Also in Act One, Rebecca encourages those present to "blame ourselves" rather than to seek to hold someone else responsible for their problems; Mrs. Putnam, however, is determined, and she insists that "There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!" In other words, she is completely unwilling to listen to Rebecca's logic, to "rely on the doctor now, and good prayer," and she wants someone to blame for the deaths of her children. Since Mrs. Putnam cannot conceive of a reason for why God might punish her with such a terrible string of tragedies, she believes that it must be someone else's fault; she seems to need to be able to place blame. Later, she charges Rebecca and others for the deaths of her children.
1) The Putnams' brother in law, James Bayley, was to be the next minister of Salem. However, a faction which included the Nurse's prohibited this from occurring.
2) Mrs. Putnam accused Rebecca Nurse of having murdered her babies as they were born, since Rebecca was the midwife and all but one (Ruth) died within a day of being born.
3) In the opening scene, Rebecca comes in to see Betty and says that she is sure that Betty and Ruth are not bewitched but just being children, a point that Mrs. Putnam strongly disagrees with since she does believe the girls are bewitched.