What important lessons does Kit learn from Hannah in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?
In Elizabeth George Speare’s novel of Puritan colonial New England, Hannah Tupper is the titular witch—or such is the townspeople’s accusation. Kit, the nickname of Katherine Tyler, is an orphaned teenage girl who feels out of place in her new home with her uncle in Connecticut. Hannah, who is a Quaker, lives alone on the outskirts of town. Hannah becomes a surrogate mother figure to the lonely girl, providing a different kind of affectionate welcome than she receives from her Aunt Rachel.
Hannah and her husband, now deceased, had been forced out of the neighboring Massachusetts colony in a religious purge. Understanding that her presence is tolerated but not welcome in the town of Weathersfield, she lives on its outskirts near Blackbird Pond. Hannah and her open-hearted welcome to other outcasts makes her the conceptual opposite of Puritans, who the author depicts as narrow minded and intolerant.
Hannah supports Kit’s love of reading and encourages her to be an independent thinker. Among the others marginal town residents are a younger girl, Prudence, whom both Hannah and Kit support in part by teaching her to read. As the Quakers are opposed to slavery, Hannah also opens Kit’s eyes to the injustices of considering other people as property.
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