What were John Holbrook's new arrangements with Dr. Bulkeley in "Witch of Blackbird Pond"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Under the new arrangements between John Holbrook and Dr. Bulkeley, the reknowned Reverend will teach John theology and medicine, but John will follow his own heart in matters of political beliefs.

John Holbrook is an intelligent, devout young man from an impoverished family.  The son of a tanner, he has studied tirelessly and dreamed of going to Harvard.  He had long planned to save enough money, then walk "over the foot trails through Connecticut and across Massachusetts" to attend the prestigious University, but never could amass enough funds for this undertaking.  He is taken on instead as a pupil by the learned Reverend Bulkeley of Wethersfield, a "very famous scholar in medicine as well as theology" (Chapter 2).  John is so much in awe of his mentor at first that he espouses the loyalist cause championed by the older man, even though it goes against everything he has been brought up to believe.

After he is captured by Indians and held in bondage for a time, John Holbrook discovers a stronger sense of himself and his own beliefs.  When he returns to Connecticut Colony, he resumes his studies under Dr. Bulkeley, with the understanding that his political stances will be his own.  John says of the Reverend,

"In politics he is obeying his own conscience, but I think he is mistaken.  We have come to an understanding.  He will teach me thoelogy and medicine, but I will think as I please" (Chapter 21).

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

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