I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem is a fictionalized portrait of a historical figure who was a main participant in the notorious Salem witch trials of 1692. The novel is divided into three parts. The first section traces Tituba’s childhood as a slave in Barbados as well as her voyage across the sea to seventeenth century New England. The second section recounts Tituba’s adventures in Massachusetts, including her experiences as an accused witch in Salem Village. The last section tells of Tituba’s return to a much-changed Barbados and her execution as a revolutionary. The story is told by Tituba herself, lending an immediacy and power to the narrative.
The main themes of the novel, the violence of slavery and the oppression of women by men, are established in the opening sentence as Tituba recounts the circumstances that surround her conception. She says simply, “Abena, my mother was raped by an English sailor on the deck of Christ the King one day in the year 16—.” This savage incident foreshadows other events in Tituba’s life in which she is treated cruelly by both white and black men.
After Abena arrives in Barbados, she becomes the house slave of a plantation owner. When he discovers that she is pregnant, he banishes her from the house to the fields. When Tituba is seven, she witnesses the attempted rape of her mother by the master. Abena defends herself and stabs him. Although the master does not die, Abena is hanged for attacking a white man.
After Abena’s death, Tituba is adopted by Mama Yaya, a natural healer who teaches Tituba her art. Tituba becomes proficient in using spells and herbs for healing. When Tituba is fourteen, Mama Yaya dies, and Tituba lives in the forest. However, Tituba is not alone. Mama Yaya and Abena act as her spirit guides and offer her solace and advice.
Tituba eventually ventures into the surrounding towns and meets John Indian. Smitten with the smooth-talking slave,...
(The entire section is 808 words.)