Study Guide

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Family

By Elizabeth George Speare

Family

“Her name is Rachel, and she was charming and gay, and they said she could have had her pick of any man in her father’s regiment. But instead she fell in love with a Puritan and ran away to America without her father’s blessing. She wrote to my mother from Wethersfield, and she has written a letter to me every year of my life.” (2.24)

Aunt Rachel is the only blood relation that Kit has left. This prompts her to journey to Connecticut.

“I don’t remember my parents at all,” she told him. “My father was born on the island and was sent to England to school. He met my mother there and brought her back to Barbados with him. They had only three years together. They were both drowned on a pleasure trip to Antigua, and Grandfather and I were left alone.”

“Where there no women to care for you?”

“Oh, slaves of course. I had a black nursemaid. But I never needed anyone but Grandfather. He was –” There were no words to explain Grandfather. (2.20-22)

Kit’s family consisted primarily of her grandfather. She was raised solely by him and her black nursemaid.

“My grandfather died four months ago,” Kit explained.

“Why, you poor child! All alone there on that island! Who did come with you, then?”

“I came alone.” (3.36-38)

It is important to note that Kit starts the novel alone. Her isolation on the island due to the loss of her grandfather is the reason that she journeys to Connecticut.

“Be quiet, girl! It is time you understood one thing at the start. This will be your home, since you have no other, but you will fit yourself to our ways and do no more to interrupt the work of the household or to turn the heads of my daughter with your vanity.” (4.49)

Uncle Matthew has a conniption fit when he finds his daughters and wife playing dress up in Kit’s fancy clothes. Through this culture clash, we learn that if Kit is to call New England her home, she will have to conform to the values of the Puritan family.

Mercy certainly did not consider herself afflicted. She did a full day’s work and more. Moreover, Kit has soon discovered that Mercy was the pivot about whom the whole household moved. She coaxed her father out of his bitter moods, upheld her timorous and anxious mother, gently restrained her rebellious sister and had reached to draw an uncertain alien into the circle. (6.30)

Mercy is the center of the household.

“Mother has never told you much about our family, has she?” she went on. “You see, there was a boy, their first child, two years older than I. I barely remember him. We both caught some kind of fever. I got well, except for this leg, but he died.”

“I didn’t know,” whispered Kit, stricken. “Poor Aunt Rachel!”

“There was another boy, after Judith,” Mercy continued. “He lived only a week. Mother said it was the will of God, but sometimes I’ve wondered.” (8.45-47)

Mercy gives the family’s history to Kit. We learn that all of the boy sons have died and this is the reason the family had wished Kit was a boy.

“I hate it here,” she confessed. “I don’t belong. They don’t want me. Aunt Rachel would, I know, but she has too many worries. Uncle Matthew hates me. Mercy is wonderful and Judith tries to be friendly, but I’m just a trouble to them all. Everything I do and say is wrong!” (9.71)

Kit is feeling particularly sorry for herself here. She isolated from the Wood family, but finds solace in Hannah’s company.

“’Tis true I did not welcome you into my house,” he said at last. “But this last week you have proved me wrong. You have not spared yourself, Katherine. Our own daughter couldn’t have done more.” (18.6)

Kit’s hard work has allowed Uncle Matthew to accept her into the family.

If only I could go with Nat, she realized suddenly, it wouldn’t matter where we went, to Barbados or just up and down this river. The Dolphin would be home enough. (26.17)

Kit learns that home is not one place, but who she is with – her family.

“There’ll be a house someday, in Saybrook, or here in Wethersfield if you like. I’ve thought of nothing else all winter. In November we’ll sail south to the Indies. In the summer – ”

“In the summer Hannah and I will have a garden!” (21.42-21.43)

Kit is getting married and has a new family now, one that will include both the Woods and Hannah.