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: Witchcraft!

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1. What is the first reason anyone thinks Kit might be a witch?

2. Why do the citizens of Wethersfield think Hannah Tupper is a witch?

3. How does the mob say Hannah escaped them?

4. How are the accusations of witchcraft against Kit finally disproved?

5. Who does Nat say is the real witch of Blackbird Pond?

1. The passengers on the Dolphin think Kit might be a witch because she can swim. That is one of the marks of witches (that they float), and for a woman to swim is so uncommon that it is immediately suspect.

2. The citizens of Wethersfield actually have many reasons to think Hannah is a witch, though some of them are better than others. The best reason, of course, is that they are people of faith, and their religion tells them they are engaged in an ongoing war between good and evil. When good things happen, that’s the Lord’s will, and when bad things happen, such as the illness that ran through the community, that’s the devil’s doing. They must stand up for good, and witches are part of the forces for evil.

What’s more, it was common during this period for civilized nations to persecute witches; within a century before the book was set, the king of England had published a book on the subject. Hannah was also marked (as witches were said to be) and lived apart from the community, refusing to take part in local religious services.

3. The mob sees Hannah’s yellow cat flash by in the night, and they say that it was carrying a mouse in its mouth … a mouse that was secretly Hannah Tupper in a magically changed form!

4. Nothing Kit says makes any difference in her own defense, and it is only when the young and trembling Prudence Cruff testifies that the community drops its accusations. Specifically, it is when Prudence proves that she can read and write.

5. Kit is the real witch of Blackbird Pond. That is why Nat names his ship after her: she “cast a spell” on him and transformed his heart.

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