What is Parris' motive for asking Tituba whether she saw Sarah Good or Goody Osburn in the Woods?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Parris' motive for asking Tituba who was with her in the forest is designed for her to "name names."  Parris is quite deliberate in his questioning of the terrified slave.  Parris literally forces names in her mouth when he says, "Sarah Good" and Tituba continues with "Goody Osburn."  For Parris, the motivation is twofold.  The first is the issue of respect that has been a part of his characterization thus far.  Parris is obsessed with the idea of being shown respect and his questioning of Tituba, compelling her to name names helps to bolster such a condition.  People  in Salem will know of his attempts to obtain names in the witch trials.  The other reason for him asking Tituba to name names is that it wil prove him right.  Since the opening of the drama, with Putnam's and Abigail's insistence, Parris has been concerned with whether the accusations of the devil will be substantiated and whether he can rely on this scare to enhance his image.  At this point in the drama, with a terrified Tituba, Parris realizes that he has his chance and that he can take advantage of the opportunity to give the trials, and thus his own standing, credibility in the eyes of the community.  In his desire to be the center of the town's attention and to be "the man," Parris pursues Tituba's questioning insisting that the terrified girl "name names."