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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Topics for Further Study

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  • Review any of the available firsthand accounts written by inhabitants of the New England colonies. Examine what they give their attention to, as opposed to where Speare focuses her novel. Consider how closely these align, where and how they differ, and why.
  • Kit is rather relaxed and accepting of slavery, as one might expect her to be, given that she grew up with the practice. Research period arguments against slavery. Which of these would be effective to a young girl like Kit from the seventeenth century?
  • Hannah Tupper’s Quaker philosophy is mentioned but not explained in any real detail. Research Quaker history and philosophy until you can explain why it might threaten the Puritan worldview as it did.
  • Several British colonies are mentioned in this novel. Research their origins and the nature of their economies. How differently are they organized, what are they trading, and how will these political and economic factors pull them in different directions? In other words, why wasn’t someplace like Barbados, which was very much part of the same trading network and extended British colonial society, part of the United States when the colonies rebelled?
  • The Puritans emphasized a literal interpretation of the Bible and put great energy into reading and understanding it. Research the Puritan view of the world and the perspectives held by contemporary Christian denominations that emphasize strict interpretations of the Bible. How are their worldviews similar, and how do they differ?
  • The Puritans of Wethersfield put a lot of energy and attention into policing the actions of community members. Their efforts ranged from fining Hannah Tupper for not attending worship services to hitting boys whose attention wandered during those services with sticks. Since that time, such an active emphasis on policing community virtue has fallen away. Research and consider that change. When did attitudes toward such activity change? Were they the same at the time of the American Revolution?

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Topics for Discussion


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