Summary and Analysis: Chapter 8
One June morning, Matthew sends Kit and Judith to weed an onion field in the south meadow. They are now dressed exactly alike, as Rachel and Mercy made Kit a calico dress that matches theirs. While the weather still seems chilly compared to what she knew in Barbados, Kit enjoys being outside as much as Judith does. She is also struck by the intense green sprawl of the Great Meadows, something she has never seen, and which is as impressive in its way as the ocean waters she had known and loved. The meadow seems to speak to her, and Kit wishes she could be there just by herself and soak in the peace.
When Judith asks what she is looking at, rather than share this inner feeling, Kit asks about a little house at the edge of a pond. Judith tells her Widow Tupper is the only one who would live in such a place. No one knows what she does when the river floods, and some people say she is a witch. The moment passes, and the girls go on to the onion fields. While they weed—another task Kit is not good at—Kit wonders if she would have to work this way if she married William and immediately realizes that no, she would not. Marrying William would be an escape.
She gets another way to escape when they arrive home: Dr. Bulkeley has suggested that Kit help Mercy teach the “dame school” for the younger children during the summer, which will be held in the Wood family’s kitchen. Kit is surprised to learn that Bulkeley thinks she is capable, and surprised again to learn John Holbrook is the one who told the minister she could read. Kit is pleased, though, both at the idea of escaping some of the harsh physical tasks and when she learns that she will be paid. This will let her contribute to the household, and she lets slip the fact that she overheard the family talking about her when she first arrived. Rachel and her daughters are embarrassed to hear this and explain that they had wished she was a boy because Kit’s uncle needs a boy to help in the fields and because the family’s first child had been a boy. He died, though, after he fell sick with the same illness that crippled Mercy.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond follows a great arc, covering a year in the life of Kit Tyler and the Connecticut Colony. However, before the novel doubles back on itself seasonally (as it does in the last chapters) and geographically (Kit arrives in the first chapter and gets ready to leave in the last chapter), it doubles back on itself in smaller ways to underscore key points and to reintroduce key themes in different ways, much as a fine musical composition might do. This doubling really emerges as a key structural and stylistic feature in this chapter. The first way this happens is through the references to Hannah...
(The entire section is 765 words.)