Chapter summaries for the Witch of Blackbird Pond can be helpful to both teacher and student. This Newbury Medal winning historical novel for tweens and teens begins in 1687 in Colonial America. The heroine of the story is Katherine (Kit) Tyler.
Chapter Summaries for the Witch of Blackbird Pond
Chapters 1 - 3
We meet Kit Tyler as arrives in Connecticut on the brigantine Dolphin. She has sailed from Barbados after her grandfather has died penniless. When others are disembarking, she asks Nat, the captain's son, to let her go on land. On the way back to the ship, she impetuously jumps into the ocean to save a young girl's doll and demonstrates her ability to swim.Goodwife Cruff, the child's mother, suspects Kit of witchcraft, because only witches can float. Arriving upriver at the town of Wethersfield, Kit seeks her aunt and uncle. They are not expecting her, because she has failed to let them know she is coming. Nonetheless, her aunt and cousins greet her warmly, but warily. Her Uncle Matthew only reluctantly agrees that she can stay because she has no other family.
Chapters 4 - 6
Kit's seven trunks full of fancy clothing create problems in her aunt's Puritan family. Her uncle agrees that only Mercy, his disabled daughter, can keep the warm shawl Kit has given her. Her cousin Judith is forced to return clothing Kit has given her.On Sunday, Kit endures her uncle's wrath-first when refusing to go to meeting and second by wearing "frippery." The meeting is lengthy and boring, but Kit survives. At meeting, she meets John Holbrook, who was on the Dolphin; Judith is jealous. She also draws the attention of a young man, William Ashby, who later asks for permission to court her.
Chapters 7 - 9
Kit begins a life of drudgery wearing a single homespun dress provided by her aunt. She has never worked like this before because her Royalist grandfather was a slave owner. For the first time, she struggles to do manual labor. Kit and her cousin Mercy teach in a dame school where Kit's unconventional and un-Puritan-like methods get her in trouble.After being dismissed from the school for letting the children act out Bible stories, Kit escapes to nearby meadow, where she sobs until she is exhausted. There she meets Hannah Tupper, who was driven from Massachusetts for being a Quaker and possible witch.
Hannah takes Kit back to her cottage and consoles her while feeding her blueberry cake. Strengthened by her contact with Hannah, Kit returns to town where she successfully apologizes and gets her teaching position back.
Chapters 10 - 12
Kit returns to Hannah Tupper's cottage many times. There she again meets Nat, and she learns he is Hannah's protector. She also meets Prudence Cruff, whose parents will not let her attend the dame school. Kit begins to teach her to read at Hannah's cottage whenever the two can escape their never-ending domestic chores.
Kit stays too late one evening at Hannah's while helping Nat re-thatch Hannah's roof. Because she is late for a visit from her suitor William, her family asks where she has been and she reluctantly tells them the truth. Nat apologizes for involving her in the repairs. Her uncle forbids her to visit Hannah again.
Chapters 13 - 15
Kit has discovered that her cousin Mercy is in love with John Holbrook, who is a frequent visitor. However, her cousin Judith has set her sights on him. When he comes to propose to Mercy, Judith thinks he is ready to claim her and he lets the misunderstanding stand.The political background of the time comes to the forefront in the story line and Kit's uncle joins a quiet resistance against the Royalist governor. William has embarked on building an impressive house where he plans to make his marital home with Kit.
Chapters 16 - 18
Uncle Matthew cancels the family's Thanksgiving celebration because of his dissatisfaction with the Royalist government. Nat is put in the town stocks for an All Hallows Eve prank against William; he is also ordered never to return to the town. John Holbrook leaves town to serve as a doctor with the military in fights against the Indians.Many in town, including Judith, Mercy, Kit, and Prudence become very ill, and Mercy almost dies. Hannah Tupper is blamed as a witch for the outbreak, and Kit and Nat successfully spirit her away before her cottage is burned by an angry mob. Townspeople think she has used her evil powers to disappear, but Nat has sequestered her safely at his grandmother's home in another town.
Goodwife Cruff has learned that Kit is teaching Prudence to read and becomes vocal about accusing her of witchcraft. Surprisingly, Kit's uncle defends her against the mob's charges that she too is a witch, but with Goodwife Cruff's urging they take Kit to jail to be tried as a witch.
Chapters 19 - 21
Kit is jailed to await a trial when Sam Talcott, the local magistrate, returns to town the next day. Kit keeps thinking that William will appear and defend her. At the trial, ridiculous accusations fly. A copy book that Kit gave to Prudence becomes an inflammatory piece of evidence. Kit is accused of writing Prudence's name multiple times to make her ill. Finally, Nat, at risk of being arrested, and Prudence appear in the courtroom to defend Kit.
Prudence testifies that she herself has written her name and that she can, indeed, read. She reads from the Bible, and her own father, tired of being bullied by his wife, urges that the charges against Kit be dropped. Even after Kit is cleared, William no longer wants to marry her and takes up with Cousin Judith. Kit is relieved. When she meets again with Nat, it is clear that their future will be together.
These chapter summaries for The Witch of Blackbird Pond provide a very condensed version of a complex story. You'll need to read the entire book to appreciate the richness of author Elizabeth George Speare's language and well-researched storyline.