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Themes

What does it mean to be a social outcast? And why is it not only cruel, but dangerous to cast someone out of society? Further, what happens when a society refuses to accept differences among its members? In its examination of the religious intolerance of 17th-century Puritans, The Witch of Blackbird Pond wants you to ask yourself these questions. Hannah Tupper’s house is burned to the ground because of fears about her religion. Kit Tyler is put on trial and nearly sentenced to death for her association with Hannah. Lives are nearly lost because the Puritan society fears those who are different. In these actions we see the violent consequences of intolerance.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Why does Goodwife Cruff dislike Kit?
  2. What is the social structure of Wethersfield? Who's at the top of the social ladder and who's at the bottom? Why? How is this different from the social structure Kit is used to?
  3. What kinds of people are outcasts in Wethersfield? Why?
  4. Why are Quakers not welcome in Puritan society?
  5. Why does Hannah have a brand on her forehead?
  6. Why is Nat put in the stocks? Who else has been in the stockades?
  7. Why do the townspeople burn Hannah’s house?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

Tolerance, understanding, and acceptance are necessary components of any peaceful society.

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