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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

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What is Kit's reaction to Wethersfield in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

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When Kit pictured her new home of Wethersfield, she expected to arrive in an established and civilized town. Instead, Kit finds clusters of shabby wooden houses and muddy streets. She sees a "row of cavernous wooden structures that... [were] warehouses." She soon realizes that Wethersfield is more of a settlement than a town. She finds the place to be "lonely and dreary." A muddy cow path runs through the small settlement. Kit is severely disappointed after coming from Barbados, which was more sophisticated and established in the English way. She does not like the muddy paths that run through the town and how worn the buildings appear. Kit is satisfied to find that her aunt Rachel's house looks more solid than the others. It is "two and a half stories" tall and it has "leaded glass windows." Overall, though, Kit has a negative impression of Wethersfield.

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What is Kit Tyler's reaction to Connecticut and the community she joins in The Witch of Blackbird Pond? 

Kit was surprised and disappointed when she arrived in Connecticut, and eventually in Wethersfield.  Kit had expected established towns, with solidly built buildings and paved streets.  Instead, she found a much less established place when she first gazed upon Saybrook.  The author described Kit's reaction:

She didn't want to admit how disappointing she found this first glimpse of America. The bleak line of shore surrounding the gray harbor was a disheartening contrast to the shimmering green and white that fringed the turquoise bay of Barbados, which was her home. The earthen wall of the fortification that faced the river was bare and ugly, and the houses beyond were no more than plain wooden boxes. 

Kit had endured a long ocean journey, and had been expecting a more welcoming place.  She did not feel welcomed by the "row of unimpressive shacks" in Saybrook.  She had hopes for a more impressive town in Wethersfield.  When she arrived, she saw that "out of the mist jutted a row of cavernous wooden structures... and beyond that the dense, dripping green of fields and woods."  She did find her aunt and uncle's house to be "solid and respectable, compared to the cabins they had passed."

In Barbados, Kit had lived a life of relative freedom.  She spent time outside, swam, and dressed how she pleased.  Kit found her uncle in Wethersfield to be a stern and strict man.  He thought that her clothes were too frivolous.  She was expected to do many chores around the house and to live simply.  Kit felt that her uncle did not accept her as she was.  She felt like a burden at times.

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What is William's reaction to Kit when he first sees her in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

William is speechless when he first sees Kit. He is taken by her comeliness, and is even more impressed when she smiles at him. William's gaze when he first spies Kit is described as "unmistakably dazzled." It is clear that Kit is very beautiful in his eyes, and that he is immediately smitten with her.

Kit is introduced to William and his mother by Rachel Wood after church. Kit curtsies politely when she is presented to Mistress Ashby, and she notes "with satisfaction" that Mistress Ashby is nicely dressed in a dove-colored damask with gilt-edged lace. Kit is gratified because, after the cool reception given to her in the Wood home and the obvious censure of her clothing there, she realizes that not everyone in this new land "despise(s) vain adornment." When she is subsequently introduced to William, Kit is "braced to meet the reserve and suspicion she (has) encountered at every inroduction so far." When she sees that he is looking at her with undisguised admiration, Kit is relieved and gratified, and "unconsciously...(rewards) him with the first genuine smile she (has) managed (all) morning." Kit is not aware that her plain features become quite stunning when she smiles, but William plainly is, and shows his astonishment. William does not move when leaves him to follow her aunt and Judith, and Kit is touched by his reaction (Chapter 5).

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What is Kit's reaction when she arrives at the new world in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

You can find the answer to your question in Chapter One in the opening paragraphs, that clearly show Kit's reaction after months of travel from Barbados to the first sight of what is to be her new home: the colony of the new world in North America:

She didn't want to admit how disappointing she found this first glimpse of America. The bleak line of shore surrounding the grey harbour was a disheartening contrast to the shimmering green and white that fringed the turquoise bay of Barbados which was her home. The earthen wall of the fortification that faced the river was bare and ugly, and the houses beyond were no more than plain wooden boxes.

We can see hear the implicit comparison that Kit makes with the new colony and her home in Barbados. Compared to the bright colours and romance of Barbados, this new colony is a poor comparison, with words such as "bleak," "grey," "bare" and "ugly" creating a somewhat foreboding and ominous mood, perhaps helping to foreshadow the lives and outlook of the Puritans that Kit will struggle so much to adapt to. Consider too how the contrast between Barbados and the new colony is emphasises by comparing the "grey" of the colony to the bright colours of Barbados, that is "shimmering green and white" and "turquoise." Clearly Kit's new home comes a poor second, at least on looks.

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What is William's first reaction to Kit when he first sees her in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?  

William is speechless when he first sees Kit.

William is a simple man, and he is a man of few words.  Most Puritans live simple lives and value family.  William is looking for a way to build a family.  He is an important member of the community from a respected family.

Kit was startled to meet the unmistakably dazzled gaze of William Ashby, and unconsciously she rewarded him with the first genuine smile she had managed this morning. Kit had no idea of what happened to her thin plain features when she smiled. William was speechless. (Ch. 5)

Judith tells Kit that she made an impression on William.  This would mean something to Judith because she has been interested in William for a while.  Kit is aware of how William was looking at her.

There was no point in denying it. "Perhaps because I was someone new," said Kit.

"Perhaps. You aren't exactly pretty, you know. But naturally William would be impressed by a dress like that." (Ch. 5)

Kit is not really in love with William Ashby.  He comes calling on her and hardly says a word.  She finds these Puritan-style dates awkward.  However, Kit knows that she needs to fit into colonial Wethersfield.  What better way than by marrying the son of a rich man?

William is building a house, and a nice one at that.  If Kit marries him, she will have everything she could possibly want, at least by Wethersfield standards.  She feels like she could fall in love with him.  When Nat finds out about the house and their impending marriage, he gets upset.  He already loves Kit.

The illumination of William and Kit’s future house by Nat and his friends makes quite an impression on Kit.  She suddenly understands that Nat really cares about her, even though he demonstrated it in a somewhat juvenile way.  When she goes to visit him in the stocks, she realizes that she really cares about him. Kit may grow to love William, but she already loves Nat.

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