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Tituba of Salem Village

Tituba of Salem Village

4.7 11
by Ann Petry, Ann Petry

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Tituba, the minister's slave, gazed into the stone watering trough. She did not see her own reflection. Instead, she saw a vision of herself, surrounded by angry people. The people were staring at her. Their faces showed fear.

That was several years ago. It is now 1692, and there is strange talk in Salem Village. Talk of witches. Several girls have been taken


Tituba, the minister's slave, gazed into the stone watering trough. She did not see her own reflection. Instead, she saw a vision of herself, surrounded by angry people. The people were staring at her. Their faces showed fear.

That was several years ago. It is now 1692, and there is strange talk in Salem Village. Talk of witches. Several girls have been taken with fits, and there is only one explanation: Someone in the village has been doing the devil's work. All eyes are on Tituba, the one person who can tell fortunes with cards, and who can spin a thread so fine it must be magic. Did Tituba see the future that day at the watering trough? If so, Could she actually be hanged for practicing witchcraft?

Editorial Reviews

Madeleine L'Engle
The reader will be carried along by the sheer excitement of the story.
The New York Times

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
A Trophy Bk.
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.54(d)
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There was nothing to indicate to the slave Tituba that this morning in November would be unlike other mornings she had known in Bridgetown. The San was out. The island of Barbados lay like a jewel sparkling in the sea. Its yellow-white coral-encrusted coast line blazed in the brilliant light. Tituba could see part of the shore line from the windows of Susanna Endicott's kitchen because the house sat on the edge of Carlisle Bay, just where it made a wide inward curve.

The slave, John, Tituba's husband, had been fishing and he was showing her the red' snappers he had caught. He had carried them into the kitchen in a big hand-woven basket. The basket was a deep dark brown, almost as dark as his hands, and the fish as he took them out of the basket were silvery by contrast. He had covered the fish with leaves to keep them cool.

"Good eating," John said, holding one of the big fish up for Tituba's inspection. He was a tall, powerfully built man with broad shoulders. He wore only a pair of white cotton trousers rolled up to the knee. He was barefooted. He leaned over the basket and then straightened up with a fluid, easy movement that made the muscles on his back ripple under the dark brown skin. He smiled, and his face which had looked dark and severe in repose was lightened and brightened by the smile.

Tituba, took one of the big fish in her hands and laughed. "It feels like I was holding a long wiggle," she said and dropped the fish in the basket. She was short compared to John, but she held herself so erect that she looked taller than she really was. Her magnificent posture wasdue to the fact that she liked to carry baskets balanced on her head like the market women. Her hair was completely covered by a neatly wound white turban. She was wearing a pale blue cotton dress. The sleeves were rolled above her elbows revealing sturdy arms, the skin a smooth dark brown. She was barefooted, too.

They were so absorbed in their admiration of the fish that they both turned,, startled, when Mistress Susanna Endicott came into the kitchen.

Tituba said, "You wanted something, mistress?" She had never known the mistress to be up so early in the morning. She glanced at her quickly and then away. The mistressdark hair was disordered. She was still wearing her night clothes. She had the rumpled look of someone who has slept badly. Her eyelids werereddened and slightly swollen, suggesting that she had been crying.

"I — uh — l," she said and stopped. She patted her hair and then smoothed it with her hands. "I — uh — I should have told you yesterday — but — uh — l couldn't-" She paused, sighed, making a tremulous sound, a shivering kind of sound in the absolute stillness in the kitchen. I needed money. I had to have money. And so — uh — I have sold you. Both of you.'

Tituba made a sound of protest, "Ah —" The beat of her heart kept increasing. She could feel it thumping, thumping inside her chest. Her mind filled with questions. To whom had the mistress sold them? She was a wealthy widow. Why had she so suddenly needed money? Tituba wondered why she had no feeling of foreboding to indicate that something dreadful was going to happen.

John said, frowning, "Who bought us, mistress?"

"I couldn't help it," the mistress said. I couldn't help it. I needed money right away."

"Who bought us, mistress?" he repeated.

"'Tis a minister. The Reverend Samuel Parris. He's been in trade here in Barbados. And he didn't do well. So he's leaving. He's going to be a minister in Boston in the Bay Colony."

"When did you sell us, mistress?" Tituba asked.


"Yesterday?" Tituba echoed the word, trying to think, to remember what yesterday was like. It was just another sunny, warm day. She had gone swimming in the inlet beyond -the. house. The water was so clear you could see the tiniest pebble way down at the bottom.

The mistress had been her usual self-nervous, excitable, restless. Tituba had belonged to Mistress Endicott ever since she was fourteen. She and John were quite accustomed to her ways. Tituba was nineteen when the mistress became a widow, rich enough to live as she pleased and own as many slaves as she pleased. When John's master died, the mistress bought John at Tituba's urging. Shortly afterwards she and John were married.

During the ten years of their married life, they had been very happy with the mistress They ware used to her. She was always giving parties or going to parties. She liked to stay up late at night and stay in bed until late in the day. She liked to play card games. She liked to have her fortune told. Shed had a gypsy woman teach Tituba how to tell fortunes with cards.

Tituba said hesitantly, "When are we to leave Barbados, mistress?"

Mistress Endicott averted her head, fumbled for, and found a small white handkerchief which she pressed against her nose. She crossed the kitchen, looked out at the bay. "This morning," she said in a muffled voice, "in a little while. Reverend Parris is leaving on the Blessing. It's in the bay. You can see its sails from the window."

Tituba thought, If I had known I would have run off into the hills with John. Later we could have gotten a boat and gone to another island and lived free in the hills and woods of some other. island. She says our new master is going to be a minister in Boston in the Bay Colony. Where is Boston in the Bay Colony? She reached for John's hand and held it tight. At least they would be together in this strange land where they were going.

Meet the Author

Ann Petry is also the author of Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad, a 1955 ALA Notable Childrens Book and a 1955 New York Times Book Review Outstanding Book. She lives in Old Saybrook, CT.

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Tituba of Salem Village 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book starts on a normal day Barbados. The two slaves, Tituba and her husband, John are talking in the kitchen early in the morning. Suddenly, their mistress, Susanna Endicott barges in looking anxious and distorted. She informs them that she sold them the other day. Their new master is a minister and he turns out to be strict and vile. His wife is an invalid and he has a daughter and a niece with him. They take a boat to Boston where they spend the winter, but after a couple months, the minister cannot find a job in Boston that will meet his requirements. He moves to Massachusetts where Salem village makes him their minister. Tituba and John settle in and the minister is usually gone which is a good thing. In Salem the people are very religious and some talk of witchcraft, but Tituba pays them no mind. It¿s not until the little girls of the village start having fits and accuse two others and Tituba of torturing them with made up things. Tituba is brought to trial because she has a cat that she talks to, she can read fortunes with cards, and her garden is more bounteous than others. The Girls had also made a witch cake and used other superstitious beliefs to assure the citizens of Salem that Tituba and two others are witches. Will Tituba survive, go to jail, be hanged, or will all be well. Read Tituba of Salem Village to find out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great read in its own right, this story is also an awesome adjunct to Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' which is a standard in high school and college literature curricula. The author, Ann Petry, deftly presents a fresh perspective of the Salem WItch Trials and the irrational hysteria of the Puritans in the 1690s. The story brings the characters to life in a very real and human way--very believable. The brief historical notes at the story's end help the reader ground the fiction with the facts. I found myself, however, often wishing that someone would have called Abigail's bluff or even brought her histrionic antics to the forefront. Even so, Petry stayed true to history on that account. The fact that Master Parris, Abigail, and the others got away with so much lying and acting only underscores just how baffling, frustrating, and shameful that portion of our nation's history is. Also good reading of that historical era with comparable reading level is Elizabeth George Speare's Newbery Winner The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the story line and the drama and emotions ran high in the book. Of course, the ending wasn't full with detail, so it wasn't exaclty good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was taken back into the year 1692, with Tituba and I saw everything as it was happening. I have read other pieces involving the Salem Witch Trials and this account was one of the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great. I couldnt stop reading it. Once i started reading i was get the hang of the book and towards the end you just cant put the book down, it just drags you towards reading it. I highly recommend the book. The only thing which i didn't like was how the story ended, not with full details.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a marvelius book written by Anne Petry. Petry does a wonderful job creating images in the mind's eye, and keeps the reader hooked through out the entire book. Taking place in 1692 mainly in Salem Mass. it tells the story of the Salem witch trials and the devistating time. Full of action, and suspence any young reader interested in a great book, or the specific topic, of the trials will enjoy and love this book:)
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first picked up this book it was just a book for English class. As I started reading I began to like it. As I started to finish the book it was one of the best I ever read and I recommend this book to just about everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i am impressed by Ann Petry's book Tituba of Salem Village. When i first got it, i thought 'oh, just another stupid book i have to read for school.' But it wasn't that way at all! When i first started to read it, it was boring but once i passed the fourth chapter, it got better and better. i read this book in two days because once i actually read further into the book i didn't want to put it down. Normally i'm not one to read books-in fact, i hate reading. But after reading this book i changed my mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was filled with suspense, drama, and emotion. It takes you back to the times of the Samel Witch Trials of 1692. If you are interested in the Salem Trials, then you have to read this book.
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