The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

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Summary and Analysis: Chapter 1

New Characters
Kit Tyler (Katherine): a sixteen-year-old orphan going to Wethersfield, Connecticut, to live with her mother’s sister.

Nat Eaton (Nathaniel): the son of the Dolphin’s captain.

Mrs. Eaton: Captain Eaton’s kind wife.

Captain Eaton: captain of the Dolphin.

John Holbrook: a theology student coming to Wethersfield to study with Reverend Bulkeley.

Goodwife Cruff: a new passenger bound for Wethersfield.

Goodman Cruff: the quiet and henpecked husband of Goodwife Cruff.

Prudence Cruff: a little girl who drops her doll in the water.

Summary
In April 1687, Kit Tyler arrives at Connecticut Colony, sailing into Saybrook Harbor aboard the Dolphin. As the ship arrives, Kit views her new home and is joined on deck by Nat Eaton, the son of the ship’s captain. Kit finds her first sight of the American colonies underwhelming, even depressing; it is all too dim and underdeveloped after her warm and colorful home in the West Indies. Kit and Nat talk until it is time for the first longboat to go to shore, when Kit begs a place aboard it so that she can have a chance to set foot on America for the first time and so that she can accompany Mrs. Eaton, who has been kind to her during the voyage. Kit has been on ship so long that she wobbles a bit once on land, but she enjoys watching the sailors load supplies.

Four new passengers accompany the supplies. One of them, a little girl, accidentally drops the wooden doll her grandfather had made for her into the water. When she is so upset about losing it, Kit dives in to get it. She is surprised by how cold the water is and more surprised still that Nat dives in to “save” her because it is so uncommon for women—or anyone—to know how to swim in the colonies.

Once back on board, Kit meets John Holbrook, one of the new passengers. He is also going to Wethersfield. John is going there to study theology with Reverend Bulkeley, with plans of becoming a minister himself. They start a friendly conversation but also clash a bit over politics before Nat interrupts them to summon Kit to dine with the Cruff family now that Mrs. Eaton has left the ship. Kit agrees, even though she doesn’t want to because Goodwife Cruff has such a sour disposition. Nat shares the news that Goodwife Cruff won’t enjoy it either, because she’s already told Captain Eaton that Kit must be a witch because she can swim.

Analysis
This first chapter introduces most of the major characters and themes of The Witch of Blackbird Pond . Katherine Tyler, known to almost everyone as Kit, sails from Barbados in the West Indies to the colony of Connecticut. Both are British colonies, but there the similarity ends. Barbados is a tropical island in the Caribbean, and it was settled by wealthy colonists who were favored by the crown and established large plantations worked by slaves. By contrast, whereas Connecticut was established about the same point in history (both colonies are about fifty years old when the novel opens), the colonists are Puritans and have come to the New World to...

(The entire section is 797 words.)