Study Guide

Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice) Breech Birth

By Joseph Delaney

Breech Birth

It Hurts to be Born

A breech birth is a traumatic—and potentially deadly—event when a baby is born feet first, instead of head first. Tom's Mam mentions breech births early on in the book, when she talks about how she's a specialist in correcting these births.

You wouldn't think this little detail would have anything to do with Tom's quest in Revenge of the Witch, but we noticed an eerie parallel between breech births and Mother Malkin. Specifically, when the Spook tells Tom that Mother Malkin is "buried vertically, head down" (5.78). He continues:

Coming out feet first isn't easy. Human babies sometimes have the same trouble. But she's still dangerous. (5.78 – 5.79)

Weird, huh?

Born to be Bad

While Tom's Mam has nothing to do with freeing Mother Malkin, we have to wonder if she's working her midwife magic on Alice. Let us explain. So, Tom says, "Sometimes a baby tries to get born feet first, but my mother is good at turning them while they are still in the womb" (1.82).

Now, Alice isn't a witch yet. As a result, you could say that she hasn't really been born yet.

When Tom's Mam gets Alice to work for her, and really connects with her, is this what she's doing? Is she turning Alice so that her eventually birth (as a witch) will go off without a hitch? We hope so. We'd really like for Tom to have one true friend in this world, but we know he wouldn't go for a bad witch.