Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies, Book Review Essay

Words: 1234
Pages: 5

Title: Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies
Author: Elaine G. Breslaw
Publication: New York and London, 1996

This book summarizes the life of a female Indian servant and her involvement in the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. To begin it gives background information of the Arawak Indian woman named Tituba, which reveals cultural influences. It tells how Tituba was captured and sold into slavery and shifted from one cultural world to another, from South America to Barbados then to Massachusetts, where she was forced to separate from friends and her culture to acclimate and thrive in another; as a servant she had no say in the matter. Her obligations as a servant were to fulfill
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Tituba, the afflicted girls, as well as those accused would make accusations of others they said were involved in witchcraft and were in a covenant with the devil. She spoke of secret meetings and a book in which she was forced by the Devil to sign, threatened with a terrible demise had she not signed. The afflicted girls and others accused fed off her testimonies and followed her cues in hopes that such a confession may spare their lives. Over the course of seven months one-hundred and fifty people would be arrested and twenty-four would die due to accusations of witchcraft, traumatizing the lives of hundreds in the New England society. For fear of damnation, Tituba along with many others recanted their confessions, acknowledging that they had falsely accused others and fictitiously created the witch stories to safeguard their lives. By September 1693, the use of spectral evidence ceased and the Governor dismissed further executions other than those already scheduled, and ordered the release of those who could post bail to get out of jail. In April of 1693, an unidentified person bailed Tituba out of the jail and she disappeared from all records. It is presumed that her husband John was sold to this same person and