When I received this book, I was not impressed by its 250 pages. I like thick novels, and this one just seemed so tediously short—but now I see my mistake. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, is an enthralling story about a young girl from Barbados, Kit. She travels to America to stay with her Puritan aunt, uncle, and cousins. Soon, she finds a friend: the “witch” of Blackbird Pond, Hannah. However, Kit is accused of being a witch after helping Hannah escape the strict Puritan community. This book was extremely realistic and thought-provoking.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond had many realistic elements in it, but the characters were the most realistic of all. Their dress, duties, and superstitions were highly suited to 17th century settlers. In the book, most people don’t have more than two sets of clothes. Clearly, if you went back to 17th century America with the amount of clothes you have here, in the 21st century, people would think that you were enormously rich. Also, their clothes were considerably different than ours so you would probably feel slightly uncomfortable around them in jeans and a T-shirt. In any case you would have to change your clothing, because it wouldn’t be practical for the type of heavy work you were supposed to perform during the day. As a matter of fact, women had to make food, spin yarn, darn clothing and do other tasks from morning till night. Men had an equal amount of work to do, such as planting and cutting wood.
Another thing that made the people realistic were their extremely superstitious beliefs. Nowadays, witches are just silly fables for Hallows’ Eve (also known as Halloween.) However, 17th century homo sapiens still believed in witches and were ruthless with them. The Puritan community in which Kit lives suspected her of witchcraft from the beginning, since she could swim. Swimming was a skill that only men practiced, giving the townsfolk another reason to mistrust Kit.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond showed me America in the 1600s. There were strict, superstitious people with remarkably different lives from our own. Once I finished this book, I was back in the 21st century: media, supermarkets, cars, lots of clothes, and many other things. If you were to read The Witch of Blackbird Pond, then sit back for a while and simply think. You’ll find that the first thing that comes to mind is, “Wow! Look how much we have created in the past centuries!” Because it’s true: humankind has never been content with what it has; it has always wanted bigger, better; and it will never stop wanting things so. You could start a whole train of thoughts. When you’d finish your thinking, you’d realize that this book is really a thought-provoking tale.
You can buy the book here.