The Witch of Blackbird Pond | Tuba City Unified School District #15

The witch of blackbird pond

In April 1687, 16 year-old Katherine Tyler (known throughout the story as Kit Tyler) leaves her home in Barbados after her grandfather dies and a 40-year-old man tries to marry her. She goes to Wethersfield, Connecticut to live with her Aunt Rachel and Uncle Matthew in their Puritan community.

In Connecticut, there is a brief stop in Saybrook, a small town just downriver from Wethersfield, where four new passengers board the Dolphin, the ship on which Kit is traveling. As the small rowboat returns to the ship, a small girl named Prudence accidentally drops her doll in the water and begs her mother to get it back for her. Her mother, Goodwife Cruff, harshly strikes Prudence and tells her not to be foolish. Impulsively, Kit jumps into the water and retrieves the doll. She nearly freezes in the frigid water because she was used to the pleasantly warm water in Barbados, her old home. When she returns to the rowboat, she is met with astonished suspicion, as few people in Connecticut could swim so well. Goodwife Cruff is the most cynical of them all, believing Kit is a witch, saying, “No respectable woman could stay afloat like that.” But Kit knew how to swim because she lived in the islands. On the slow trip upriver, Kit befriends John Holbrook, another passenger coming to Wethersfield to study with Reverend Gershom Bulkeley. After the Dolphin reaches Wethersfield, Kit admits to the captain of the ship that neither her aunt nor uncle knows she is coming. She says that they would welcome her because she is family.

When she arrives in Wethersfield, Kit finds Wethersfield very different from Barbados. In her previous home, she had servants, but here she is expected to work along with the rest of the family. There is none of the luxury to which she was accustomed, and even the weather is miserably cold. She has two cousins, Mercy and Judith. She is required to attend church meeting services twice each Sunday, which she finds long and dull. She meets the rich, 19-year-old William Ashby, who begins courting her, though she does not care for him; originally, her cousin Judith had hoped to marry William, but soon sets her sights on John Holbrook, now a divinity student studying with local minister Gershom Bulkeley.

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