What is Ann Putnam's argument with Rebecca Nurse?

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Rebecca Nurse suggests that, rather than look for witches or devils to blame for their problems, the people of Salem ought to "blame [them]selves" and "go to God" for the cause of any problems they have. Mrs. Putnam, however, is offended by the unintended implication that seven of her own eight children have died as infants and that she is somehow to blame for this. When Rebecca says that the people of the village should look to their own selves as a factor in the problems they have, she unwittingly suggests that Mrs. Putnam has done something to deserve the tragedies that have befallen her family. As a result, Mrs. Putnam grows sarcastic, showing her resentment of Rebecca, when she says, "You think it God's work you should never lose a child, nor a grand-child either, and I bury all but one?" All of Rebecca's children and grandchildren have lived, while Mrs. Putnam has lost almost all of her children (and now her one living child, Ruth, seems near to death as well), and Mrs. Putnam seems to interpret Rebecca's statement as an insinuation that Rebecca has done nothing punishable while Mrs. Putnam has. Mrs. Putnam's feelings are already raw from her previous losses and anxiety over Ruth, and Rebecca's piety and luck are, frankly, too much for her to handle; she obviously envies Rebecca's great luck.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 27, 2020
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