I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

by Maryse Condé 

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Part 2, Chapters 13–Epilogue Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1424

Chapter 13

Tituba considers extending her powers beyond those of Mama Yaya. She seeks knowledge from obeah men and women on the plantations but often feels unwelcome. When an Ashanti obeah man is speaking with her about his capture from Africa, he realizes she is Tituba, the infamous witch. He insists that he would have used his power to turn the villagers against one another and create havoc. 

Tituba repeats the line about her known in the history books, quoted from the judicial record: that she was “a slave originating from the West Indies and probably practicing ‘hoodoo.’” She wonders why she will be forgotten and attributes it to her race and gender. Tituba reflects on the injustice that much more is known about her accusers.

A group of slaves approaches Tituba to warn her that the planters suspect her of helping slaves plan revolts. Tituba feels she should seek revenge but feels she cannot change who she is. When Tituba returns to the maroons’ hideout, she seeks out Christopher, with whom she has started a sexual relationship. She cannot make him invincible, but she wants to join the slaves’ cause against the white man. Christopher mocks her, claiming it is not a woman’s place.

Tituba continues to use her healing arts on the slaves. One day, her spirits appear, and Abena asks why Tituba is aligned with the maroons. Abena sees them as selfish, abandoning their families to pursue their own freedom. Tituba succeeds in reviving a baby girl and asks herself whether having given birth to her child would have given her life greater meaning. She thinks that she and Hester may have erred in ending their children’s lives. 

Christopher stays overnight in Tituba’s hut, but their encounters only make Tituba miss John Indian. She reminisces about their time in Salem, where they clung to one another in a hostile world. Christopher admits that he and the maroons are worried about being attacked. Tituba teases him, saying that is why he wants to be invincible. Christopher’s pride is wounded, so he sings a song about his achievements and tells Tituba there will be no song about her.

Tituba enjoys the conversation of the maroon women, who feel sorry for Tituba because she has no children. They question why she did not use her powers to escape imprisonment in Salem. While they have grown accustomed to the efficacy of her cures, she assures them her abilities have limits. 

When Christopher begins to openly insult Tituba, she leaves and returns to her original cabin, which is rundown but not much different than she remembers it. She sacrifices a ewe and works in the garden, with some help from the slaves from neighboring plantations. She notes how strange it may seem that she feels at peace when so many on her island are suffering under the yoke of slavery. Her land yields a beautiful orchid that she names Hester. 

Chapter 14

Tituba realizes that she is pregnant with Christopher’s child, a girl. Her pregnancy makes Tituba commit to changing the world into which her child will be born, but she is unsure where or how to begin. She prays and makes sacrifices, hoping for answers.

An answer arrives in the form of Iphigene, a young man nearly beaten to death by an overseer. Tituba heals him and becomes his surrogate mother. The two bond over the fact that each witnessed their mother’s death when they themselves were very young. Treating Iphigene’s wounds and hearing his stories stokes a passion for revolt in Tituba; she shares with him her mission to improve...

(This entire section contains 1424 words.)

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the world for her unborn child. Iphigene begins to plan an island-wide rebellion with other slaves, while Tituba focuses on her pregnancy.

Christopher is rumored to have a deal with the planters; his and the maroons’ freedom is only tolerated if they inform and protect planters from revolts. Tituba goes to speak to Christopher, and he promises not to interfere with their plans. Tituba has a terrible dream, revisiting the scene of abuse and assault she endured in Salem before her imprisonment, but the “birds of prey” are now Parris, John, and Christopher. 

Tituba prays to her spirits, and they give her discouraging omens. Yao thinks that the revolt will be “a bloodbath,” because “the time is not ripe for our freedom!” Mama Yaya similarly laments that the suffering of Black people never ends. Tituba prays as strongly as she can for a positive outcome.

Chapter 15

Iphigene and his cohorts plan the revolt meticulously, and Iphigene and Tituba become lovers, despite the mother-son tone of their relationship. Tituba injures herself when, trying to sacrifice a rabbit, she drops a knife on her foot; as a result, Iphigene takes care of Tituba, a reverse of their original dynamic. The night of the revolt arrives, and both feel increasingly anxious.

Tituba has another ominous dream similar to the one she had on the night Benjamin’s house was burned down. She wakes up in a panic, and Tituba and Iphigene realize that the revolt has been foiled. Someone apparently tipped off the planters, who take their revenge by hanging all of those involved in the rebellion’s planning, including Tituba. 

She is hanged last. She is taunted for having escaped the noose in Salem and is made to hear an inaccurate history of her own life. She is at least comforted by her belief that she will be reunited with her cherished spirits in death.


Tituba asserts that there is a song about her that she hears people on the island singing and humming. In the afterlife, Tituba continues to heal those who need her. Tituba bonds with a girl named Samantha, who is especially inquisitive about the world around her and receptive to Tituba’s lessons about herbs and healing. 

Tituba notes that her only regret is her separation from Hester, since their contact is limited in the afterlife. She feels she is a part of the world around her. She recognizes, too, that the world is full of suffering but that this island where she and her people have been enslaved is also a source of great beauty and bounty that she hopes will someday be all theirs. 


As Tituba nears the end of her life, she considers her legacy, focusing on the short reductive line that she is “a slave originating from the West Indies and probably practicing ‘hoodoo.’” This brief line misunderstands Tituba much in the way that others have misunderstood her throughout her life. This passage thus brings up a recurring theme: the misconceptions and negative connotations associated with the word “witch.”

Tituba’s story intends to clarify that she is a healer who seeks to use her power to help, to mend, and to give solace. In the final sections of the novel, those who persecute Tituba continue to misrepresent her practices or question why she has not used her powers differently. This trend is apparent when the obeah man says he would have created conflict and when the maroon women wonder why Tituba did not escape from prison by transforming herself.

Tituba struggles to find purpose or meaning. First, she tries to join forces with the maroons to fight the white planters’ oppression; later, she assists the slave revolt in hopes of creating a better world for her unborn daughter. While she has done much good for others, Tituba is unfulfilled, perhaps because she has never been understood fully by others or because she feels that she is destined to be forgotten by history. Tituba must balance the pessimism of her spiritual guides, who feel that either Black people are cursed or must endure more suffering before being liberated, with her desperate desire for progress. In the Epilogue, Tituba asserts that

it is more usual for me to keep a slave from the edge of despair by whispering, “Look at the splendor of our island. Soon it will be all ours. Fields of nettles and sugarcane. Furrows of yams and patches of cassava. All of it!”

After her death, Tituba seems to more fully understand that tragedy and hope are always in balance in the human world. Even though she cannot foretell when her people will take full ownership of their island and throw off the chains imposed by the colonizers, Tituba is confident that the day will arrive. She keeps the hopes of the disenfranchised alive by assuring them that they will one day be vindicated.


Part 2, Chapters 9–12 Summary and Analysis