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 21

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One day in April, two marriages are announced. John Holbrook is going to marry Mercy Wood, and William Ashby is going to marry Judith Wood. The Wood house is very busy preparing for the weddings, which are planned for early May. John goes back to studying with Reverend Bulkeley and is clearer about how to disagree with his highly respected teacher. The weather finally improves enough for ships to start servicing the colony again, and this starts Kit thinking about Barbados and if she could sell her old dresses for enough money to buy passage home.

In mid-April, Kit walks through the town. She notes that as the heavy snows melted, the river flooded until the meadows were covered, which means Hannah’s house would have been flooded as well. Kit begins thinking of the futures that might be and understands that her life is not meant to be there in Connecticut. She suddenly thinks of Nat Eaton with longing, knowing that if they were together, they could sail anywhere they wanted to. That is when Kit remembers Hannah’s words about love and realizes she loves Nat. Is it too late, though, she wonders? All she can do is wait, and so Kit does, until she sees Nat on the wharf on May 2. He is not there with the Dolphin, but with a new ship, his own. He has named it the Witch, not after Hannah (who is happily living with Nat’s grandmother), but after Kit, whom he has been longing for as well. He asks Kit if the new boat is enough to prove him a man of substance to Matthew Wood and if her uncle will let Kit marry Nat. The chapter ends as they are walking arm and arm to the Woods’ house, but the implied answer is clear: Kit and Nat will marry, live together happily ever after, and sail from place to place as the winds and their hearts decide.

While this chapter is emotionally important and satisfying, it is also the logical and almost inevitable working out of themes and dramatic movements that have run throughout the entire novel. It was with Nat on the novel’s first page that Kit first sees Connecticut Colony—in fact, he points it out to her—and it is with Nat on the novel’s last page that Kit makes plans to leave. Just as the year has come full circle through its calendar and seasons, so Kit has moved through her personal cycle: she came from Barbados lost and alone, without any trace of family, and now she has three families, all of which she has transformed through her words, deeds, and presence. There are the Woods, her surrogate parents whose daughters have both passed through intense illness and are now marrying. There is Hannah, who is her chosen family, a surrogate grandparent to take the place of Kit’s lost grandfather. And there is Nat, her husband to be, with whom she will start a family of her own. To do all of this in a year is a kind of magic, and therefore there is great symbolic reason for Nat to name his new ship the Witch after Kit. Using unexpected methods, Kit has changed her entire world. And that is magic indeed.

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Summary and Analysis: Chapter 20