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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

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Nat and his friends light jack-o-lanterns in William’s house.

Nat has a thing for Kit, but she is not really aware of it.  She is considering marrying William Ashby because he is wealthy and respected and she is trying to fit into her new society.  He is building her a house.  Nat uses the house to send both of them a message.

I am sorry to tell you, Katherine, that your friend William Ashby seems to have been the only one singled out for their insulting prank."

Kit dared not ask the question, but her uncle went on. "They illuminated his house," he told them gravely. (Ch. 16)

Rachel assumes that “illuminated” means that they burned the house down.  However, it was a more harmless prank than that.  The sailors did not do any actual lasting damage.  That’s what makes what they did an “insulting prank” rather than a more serious crime.

"No. They well might have. They put lanterns in the window frames that are waiting for the new panes. Lanterns made out of pumpkin heads, with candles inside, and unholy faces cut in the sides to show the light." (Ch. 16)

Although it was just a bunch of silly jack-o-lanterns, the Puritans take it very seriously.  To them it is the same as inviting the devil into their town. All Hallows Eve or Halloween are not practiced in their culture.  In fact, they are so devoutly religious that they celebrate hardly anything at all.

Kit thinks it is funny, but her uncle calls the jack-o-lanterns “the devil's invention.”  He tells them it is “blasphemy” and the sailors will be dealt with severely.  In fact, the boys are put in the stocks and threatened with whipping if they do not leave town and never come back.  This upsets Kit a lot, because she really does like Nat.

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