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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

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Why does Kit contemplate marrying William in The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

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Kit considers marrying William so she can fit in, because he is rich.

William Ashby was originally interested in Judith, Kit’s cousin.  However, when Kit comes to town he seems to become interested in her instead.  For Kit, he is certainly the practical choice.  She can marry him and be respectable, and do just what the Puritan colonists want her to do and be what they want her to be.  She does not see much in William though.  He is not friendly or passionate, and the two could not really be more unalike.

Kit describes William as “sturdy” (Ch. 5).  She is not smitten with him.  Judith, however, is.  She is frustrated with Kit because William switches his affections to her.

Who hasn't heard that his father has three acres of the best land set aside, and the trees all marked to build the house the moment Master William makes up his mind' And he was just about to make it up, too, when you came along." (Ch. 6)

This of course, is reason enough to marry him.  He can build Kit a house and they can live comfortably.  She can fit in, for once, amongst the other colonists.  After all, he likes her, doesn’t he?  She can grow to like him.  He is dependable.  He will be good to her.

The biggest problem with William is that he is not much of a talker.  Their visits are a bit awkward.  He just sort of stares at her for a very long time.  The only time William does ever speak up is in mixed company, to talk politics.  His politics sort of agree with hers.  She is in favor of the king, and he does not think the colonists can fight the king.  It is not exactly the same thing, but it more or less puts them on the same side.  Kit like the fact that William stands up to her uncle.

Kit seems to enjoy the attention too, because everyone wants William.

It was flattering, she had to admit. The most eligible bachelor in Wethersfield and handsome, actually, in his substantial way.  Sometimes, as she sat knitting, aware that William's eyes were on her face, she felt her breath tightening in a way that was strange and not unpleasant. (Ch. 7)

In the end, however, Kit realizes that she cannot marry William.  First of all, for all her bluster, Judith is the one who is really in love with him.  Second of all, Kit is really in love with someone else.  Nat is more Kit, and what they feel for each other starts out as friendship and grows to true passion.

Kit’s story is a good example of why you should not settle for just what society wants from you.  If she had married William, it would not have been fair to either of them.  She was not right for him.  She would have been trapped in that life.  She needs someone who understands her, and he does not.  Nat does, and with him, she can learn to fit in but is still free to be herself.

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In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, why does Kit end her relationship with William?

After Kit is arrested and tried for witchcraft and the charges against her are dropped, William comes to call at her home. He stayed away during Mercy's illness out of consideration for the family, he says. Kit is cool toward him because he did not support her during the trial; he didn't even act as a character witness for her. When Kit shows him out that evening, they have a private conversation. Although he says he missed her, he makes it clear that he expects her to put her unpredictable ways behind her.

Hearing William's remarks, Kit realizes their relationship will never work. Although she hadn't decided previously not to marry him, the time she spent in the shed when she was under arrest gave her plenty of time to think. Now it becomes clear to her that each of them will always be wishing the other were different. She knows she doesn't care about the things that are important to him—like his house—and he doesn't care about things that are important to her—like sacrificing to help people whom others reject or ignore.

William is "baffled and unhappy" at Kit's news that she no longer wants to see him. She knows that with one word or touch, she could revive their relationship, but she lets him go. William and Kit are not compatible because they don't share the same values. Kit breaks off her relationship with William without having any other prospects for marriage. If she hadn't made that brave and principled move, she would not have been free to find a better future with Nat, who does share her values.

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In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, why does Kit end her relationship with William?  

The answer to this question can be found in Chapter Twenty of this excellent novel. After Kit's near escape during her trial when fortunately she was proven to not be a witch, thanks to Nat's intervention, Kit has realised some fundamental things about herself and also about William Ashby and how different they are as characters. William's decision to not side with Hannah, Prudence and Kit during their time of need has taken away all respect that Kit has for him, and she realises now that she would never be truly happy being married to him. Note what she says to him:

"'Tis no use, William," she said now. "You and I would always be uneasy, all of our lives. We would always be hoping for the other one to be different, and always being disappointed when it didn't happen. No matter how hard I tried, I know I could never care about the things that seem so important to you."

Kit has obviously now learned the lesson that Hannah tried to teach her before. That escape from a situation that you don't like can often lead to a worse kind of servitude. Whilst marriage to William would give her the social status that she craves, she would never be happy being married to William as they think very differently.

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Why does Kit end her relationship with William in "The Witch of Blackbird Pond"?

At first, Kit's relationship with William is an opportunity to escape the dull routine of her uncle's house.  She is not attracted to William and has little in common with him, but she is flattered by his interest and eager for diversion.  As the relationship continues, Kit knows that she does not love William, but she believes that marriage to him will provide her an escape from her dull life.  Although Hannah tells her that without love, there is not escape, Kit still toys with the idea of accepting William when and if he asks.

After the theft of the charter, Kit comes to realize that she respects William; however, she still does not love him.  The real truth of their relationship comes to her after the trial.  William's advice to her is not to associate with people like Hannah in the future.  He can not understand that Kit was honoring her own integrity by refusing to turn away from a friend, and from a good woman, just because it violates society's rules.  Kit is certain that they two will never have enough in common to be happy together, and so ends the relationship.

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