Which character in "The Crucible" has lost seven children? 

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Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ann Putnam lost seven babies on the night each of them was born. Ruth, her only living child, has become sickly and "secret."  Believing that this sickness, as well as the deaths of her seven babies, is the work of the devil, she sends Ruth to Tituba, a slave woman known for her ability to "speak with the dead."  Mrs. Putnam now believes that Ruth's proximity to the spirits of her dead siblings has caused her to be struck dumb as she now is. 

Even though Mrs. Putnam knew conjuring up the dead was considered a sin in the Puritan community, her grief and desperation led her to do what she consciously knew was wrong.  Abigail verifies that Tituba and Ruth were the ones communing with spirits, meaning witchcraft.

dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to that, the Putnams use this as an easy way to accuse Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft.  It is well-known in the village that the Putnams are wealthy and can buy up as much land as they possibly can, and since land equals power in Salem during this time period and since the Nurses live next to the Putnams, it would be extremely beneficial to the Putnams if the Nurses were accused of witchcraft.  Therefore, out of greed toward the Nurses' land and jealousy that the Nurses were able to have 11 children and 26 grandchildren, the Putnams have their daughter Ruth accuse Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft.  This all relates to three of the play's key themes -- greed, revenge, and jealousy.