Why are Judith and Mercy are so astonished to hear that their mother had been very beautiful in "Witch of Blackbird Pond"?
Why were they so astonished that their mother had been very beautiful when she was young?
Judith and Mercy are astonished to hear that their mother had been very beautiful when she was young because she is much changed now after years of hard work in the Puritan Community of Connecticut Colony. Although Kit's grandfather had often told her of her Aunt Rachel's beauty, when Kit first sees her she thinks the "thin, gray-haired woman (standing) on the threshold" of her Uncle's house is "quite plainly a servant". Not only has Aunt Rachel aged, but her demeanor is exceedingly timid and reserved. It is only when she recognizes her niece and a look of "warmth and happiness (sweeps) over her pale face", that Kit sees that "once, a long time ago, she must have been very beautiful".
Judith and Rachel have never seen what their mother looked like when she was young, before toil and submission to the dominance of stern Matthew Wood wore down her vivacity and beauty. Also, in their strict Puritan faith, attention to outward personal beauty is considered to be vanity, and pretty clothing and adornment are condemned as frippery. Rachel does not have fine clothing and accessories to accentuate her beauty, and her daughters have never seen her dressed other than in a "nondescript sort of coarse gray stuff". When she tentatively tries on the "little beribboned bonnet" given to her by Kit, "the years...(drop) away from her face...(and) her two daughters (stare) in unbelief...at her brilliant eyes and tremulous smile" (Chapters 3-4).