I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem Characters

Maryse Boucolon

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Although I, Tituba is partly based on actual people connected with the Salem witch trials, Condé had little historical information about Tituba’s life in Barbados, and she possessed a limited number of facts concerning the role Tituba played during the witch hysteria. Condé invents characters such as Mama Yaya, Abena, and Benjamin to give Tituba a history of her own. Condé’s characters are often deliberately exaggerated or overdrawn, and her use of parody emphasizes the novel’s central themes.

The reader is immediately drawn to Tituba’s humanity and warmth. She is loving, compassionate, and gentle. She uses her healing power for the good of the communities where she lives, not for her own gain. Her sense of ethics is apparent when one Puritan woman secretly asks her to cast a spell on one of her neighbors, a request Tituba refuses. When she is tried for witchcraft, Tituba is naturally resentful and angry, but she does not take revenge. She declines to point her finger at innocent people, even though the court pressures her to do so. Her loving nature is also expressed through her passionate sexuality and appreciation for life. However, her love for others is both a strength and a weakness. Mama Yaya and Abena warn her that she loves men too much. Her relationships with John Indian and Christopher end in abandonment and betrayal. Yet she holds no grudges and readily forgives. In many ways, Tituba is a mock-epic heroine. She is almost...

(The entire section is 541 words.)