Summary and Analysis: Chapter 5
Reverend Gershom Bulkeley: the Puritan minister at Wethersfield.
Mistress Ashby: one of the Woods’ neighbors.
William Ashby: Mistress Ashby’s son, soon to become a suitor for Kit.
On Sunday, Kit accompanies the Woods to the Meeting House for religious services. Her uncle is upset, first by Kit’s infrequent church attendance in the past and second by the fact that she has no other clothing to wear: the flashy clothes she owns seem disrespectful for a church service. Kit makes the situation worse by asking how far away the town is—when they’re standing in the middle of it.
Once at the Meeting House, the Puritan services seem as austere as the building itself. Kit finds the service boring and the seats painful, and her only relief is watching young boys trap a fly … until a watching man raps them on the head with a pole. After the sermon, Kit is introduced to Reverend Bulkeley. He and two deacons greet Kit warmly, and Kit also gets a chance to wave to Prudence, but Goodwife Cruff and a group of women stand to the side, gossiping about Kit and glaring at her. Kit is diverted from this when John Holbrook comes to greet her. Judith joins them to praise Reverend Bulkeley. As he leaves, Rachel introduces Kit to Mistress Ashby and her son William, who is clearly struck by Kit’s beauty. Kit’s still thinking about this encounter when Judith draws her aside to ask if Kit has a romantic interest in John Holbrook. All of this social interaction and speculation comes to an end when Kit notices the little “Sabbath houses,” which are there for families who live too far from the Meeting House to go home between services. This is how Kit learns there are two services each Sabbath, not just one. This sparks a momentary rebellion, but Kit soon realizes she’ll have to attend the second service.
This chapter introduces Kit to the larger Puritan community and drives home how limited and unpleasant her place in it is. Kit’s comments about the town’s size can be taken that she’s used to seeing a...
(The entire section is 548 words.)