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

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Questions and Answers: Goals and Motivations

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1. Why is John Holbrook coming to Wethersfield?

2. Why do the Woods wish Kit were a boy when she comes to live with them?

3. Why does Kit jump into the water as the Dolphin sails into Saybrook Harbor?

4. What motivates Matthew Wood to accept Kit into his home?

5. Why does William Ashby want to marry Kit?

1. John Holbrook is coming to Wethersfield to study with Dr. Bulkeley, who is widely known as an accomplished minister. John has a deep love of religious learning, which he first yearned to follow to Harvard, but his family was too poor.

2. On a practical level, the Woods wish Kit were a boy because Matthew Wood needs the help on the farm. On the emotional level, it is implied that Matthew and Rachel miss their deceased boy.

3. Kit jumps into the water to save the wooden toy Prudence Cruff had dropped. You might also say, though, that she jumps into the water because she does not think much of it—where she is from the water is warm and everyone can swim— and because she is kind-hearted.

4. Duty. Kit is family, and Matthew (and all good members of his community) believed that family was a duty one must support. He accepts her despite his own wishes, despite the costs, and despite the inconvenience. Given Kit’s politics, her slave-owning background, and her flashy clothing, she might well have seemed quite a burden, and even a risk of sin, but Matthew’s duty trumped all of this.

5. Curiously, the book never really says. It is clear that he is struck by Kit’s colorful appearance the first time they meet and that he is drawn to her, but he never really does accept her. In fact, in chapter 20, William says that he thought Kit would someday forget her old ways. He does not love how she acts, and he does not seem to care about what she thinks; perhaps his is simply a physical and social love?

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