illustration of a woman in a black dress with long black hair swimming down through the water toward a smaller human figure

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

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Summary and Analysis: Chapter 12

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In the middle of August, “dame school” ends, and Kit and the girls shift to other tasks, such as making cider and harvesting onions and early apples and corn. This keeps Kit so busy that she does not have a chance to visit Hannah for a long time, until one afternoon when Rachel gives the girls time off after making candles. However, when Kit starts to head out the door to visit Hannah, Rachel asks her where she is going. When Kit does not answer, Rachel gives her a piece of apple tart to take with her, which tells Kit that her aunt knows she is going to go visit Hannah (and that she has known for some time), and even if Rachel does not approve, she is still moved by Kit’s good heart.

When Kit arrives at Hannah’s, she finds Nat there chopping wood. When he’s done, he starts thatching Hannah’s roof. Kit asks if she can help, and the two work easily together as companions. When they are done and resting, Kit is surprised to find herself as happy and at ease as she had been in Barbados. As they talk, Nat asks if she is homesick. Kit says that she sometimes is but feels more upset that she does not fit in. Nat then tells a story of a multicolored bird he once saw for sale that he had wanted to buy for his grandmother, but his father convinced him that the local birds would attack it. When he helped Kit move to Wethersfield, he thought of that bird.

As their conversation continues, Kit is delighted to learn that Nat has read Shakespeare, but talk of The Tempest leads to political discussions, and suddenly Nat is talking quite seriously about the nature of loyalty and freedom. When Kit decides it is time to go home, she is confused at Nat’s decision to walk with her. The Woods are upset that she is so late, but Kit tells them directly what she has been doing, and Nat supports her. William is there waiting for her and is no more happy to find her walking with another man than her Uncle Matthew is to learn that she has been helping a “heretic.”

This chapter continues Elizabeth George Speare’s practice of interweaving aspects of the past with emerging events. Specifically, Nat’s familiarity with Shakespeare is a pleasant surprise, and it and their shared labor create a new closeness between the couple. However, this also reminds Kit of how at home she felt in Barbados and springs in part from finding someone who has experienced some of the literature she so loved in her youth. What’s more, where Kit sees Shakespeare’s plays primarily as art and values them for their beauty, Nat sees them as a springboard to action, further blending past and present.

When Nat walks Kit home, it echoes their first walk through Wethersfield, but this time they are definitely companions.

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Summary and Analysis: Chapter 11


Summary and Analysis: Chapter 13