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

Start Free Trial

What lessons might The Witch of Blackbird Pond teach?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The lessons that this story conveys to individual readers could vary greatly from reader to reader; however, I do think a good place to look for possible lessons is within themes and characters. I believe that readers can learn lessons about attitude and work ethic from Mercy Wood. Mercy has a tough situation. Her disability could give her every reason to be angry at the world, yet she is probably one of the story's most emotionally and mentally stable people. She is a source of constant encouragement, and her work ethic is second to none. She not only keeps up with the rest of her family, but she is an integral part of the family by being a sort of glue that holds everybody together.

Mercy certainly did not consider herself afflicted. She did a full day’s work and more. Moreover, Kit had soon discovered that Mercy was the pivot about whom the whole household moved. She coaxed her father out of his bitter moods, upheld her timorous and anxious mother, gently restrained her rebellious sister and had reached to draw an uncertain alien into the circle.

I think readers can learn an important lesson about the power of a positive attitude from Mercy, and she shows that physical limitations shouldn't be used to judge the quality of a person.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a historical fiction novel told through the lens of prejudiced Colonial Puritan settlements in New England during the late 1600s. External conflict in the novel includes the origins of the Revolutionary War as colonists struggle against British rule. A lesson to be learned from this element of the novel is that people will struggle, fight and even die to gain or protect freedoms.

Another ongoing conflict in the story provides additional lessons regarding human interactions and beliefs. The Puritan religious beliefs led to many accusations of witchcraft. In the novel, a group mentality of accusations involving witchcraft takes hold of a community. A lesson involving mass hysteria or peer pressure could be learned while analyzing the way the group turns on one of the characters, accusing her of witchcraft.

The main character also struggles with resolving an inner conflict between her identity and her duty to family, religion and community. Another lesson to learn from the novel is that of finding balance within one's self in performing duties as a member of a community or family while maintaining one's identity.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial