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Tituba

In Puritan Salem Village—a place where anyone different was not trusted—Tituba was perhaps the most different among them. Not only was she a slave, which was unusual in the area, she was also a dark-skinned foreigner, setting her apart from the white Puritan villagers.
 
Tituba was born in a small village in South America, but as a child she was captured and taken to the Caribbean island of Barbados. There she was sold as a slave to Samuel Parris—a local merchant originally from New England.
 
In 1680, Parris, Tituba, and another West Indian slave named John Indian moved to Boston. In Boston, Parris married, started a family, and became a minister. Tituba and John married in 1689, the same year that Parris moved the family to Salem Village to become their pastor.
 
Parris’s wife Elizabeth had many duties as the pastor’s wife and was often sick, so Tituba tended to the three children: Thomas, Betty, and Susahanna. In the evenings Tituba entertained little Betty and her cousin Abigail Williams by the kitchen fire. She played fortune-telling games and told them stories of magic and spirits from the Caribbean. Such activities were strictly forbidden by Puritan code. But word secretly spread among the neighborhood girls, and soon a small group of girls—known as the “circle girls”—were joining Tituba around the fire.
 
That cold winter of 1692, Betty, Abigail, and Ann Putnam began exhibiting strange behavior—babbling, twitching, and convulsing—that was diagnosed as witchcraft. Tituba and John baked a “witch cake” with rye and Betty’s urine and fed it to the dog. It was believed the dog was a “familiar,” or witch’s helper, and by eating the cake, the spell would be broken and the identities of the witches would be revealed.
 
When pressed to identify their tormentors, the girls pointed to three social outcasts—including Tituba. Tituba denied practicing any witchcraft—she loved young Betty. But Reverend Parris beat his slave and demanded that she confess to the magistrates, promising her freedom if she cooperated. During her three-day examination, Tituba did confess to practicing witchcraft and claimed there were other witches in the village. Tituba was put in prison, but because she had confessed, she did not stand trial.
 
Parris did not keep his promise and refused to pay the fees to release Tituba. She stayed in prison until the following spring, when she was sold and taken away from Salem. Nothing else is known about Tituba. But it is believed that she and John had one child, a daughter named Violet, who lived in the Parris household until the reverend’s death in 1720.


During her examination, in what forms did Tituba claim to see the Devil? Read an excerpt from Tituba’s examination.
 
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