Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 456
Abena, my mother, was raped by an English sailor on the deck of Christ the King one day in the year 16-- while the ship was sailing for Barbados. I was born from this act of aggression. From this act of hatred and contempt
This passage opens the book and quickly establishes the violent racism and sexism of the world Tituba is born into. A key the theme of the work is the power of women in the face of discrimination and violence. Although Tituba is in some ways a product of white male aggression, she goes on to fight against this oppression.
They hanged my mother. I watched her body swing from the lower branches of a silk cotton tree. She had committed a crime for which there is no pardon. She had struck a white man. She had not killed him, however. In her clumsy rage she had only managed to gash his shoulder.
Tituba's mother is hanged for resisting the sexual advances of a white man. This moment clearly demonstrates the power of slave owners: as white men, they may do what they want to their slaves, particularly the women. Slaves were treated as sexual and material property.
You would have said I wasn’t there, standing right there on the threshhold of the room. They were talking about me, but at the same time they were ignoring me. They were scratching me off the map of human beings. I was a non-being. An invisible.
In this passage, Tituba discusses the cruel and dismissive way her white owners treat her. They don't see her as a human, but as an invisible pawn who they can do with what they will. She is mistreated by those who are her social "superiors," but Tituba's inherent goodness demonstrates that she is their moral superior.
At this point in my life I was haunted by the temptation to kill myself. It seemed that Hester had set me an example to follow. Alas! I didn't have the courage.
In jail in Salem, Tituba meets Hester Prynne, the fiction heroine of The Scarlet Letter. Hester kills herself in protest, as she has been jailed for having an out-of-wedlock child while the father of her child remains free. Tituba yearns for this type of freedom, but she does not succumb to the temptation to kill herself.
Life is too kind to men, whatever their color.
This quote speaks to the power of men over women. Though Tituba certainly experiences cruelty due to her status as a biracial slave, she also is discriminated against as a woman. Even the non-white men in her life, such as John Indian and Christopher, do not treat her as an equal, and both ultimately betray her.
Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 223
There are many important quotes from Maryse Condé's I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem which discuss the social culture surrounding the Salem Witch Trials.
1) “The truth always arrive too late because it walks slower than lies. Truth crawls at a snail's pace.”
This quote represents that dozens of people of Salem falsely accused their neighbors of witchcraft. The trials were notoriously fast, with sentencing and execution happening very swiftly.
2) “Life is too kind to men, whatever their color.”
Many of the women killed during the Salem Witch Trials were seen as outcasts, because they did not behave as a Puritan woman was expected to. Many were unwed, widowed, or childless. Gender expectations of men were not so harsh in Puritan society.
3) “They hanged my mother. I watched her body swing from the lower branches of a silk cotton tree. She had committed a crime for which there is no pardon. She had struck a white man. She had not killed him, however. In her clumsy rage she had only managed to gash his shoulder.”
When Tituba was a young girl, she witnessed the execution of her mother. This quote represents the racism she experienced throughout her life. Later in life, the accusation of witchcraft she faced was based on racial discrimination, as the white Puritan settlers viewed blacks as evil, impure heathens.