By Kameelah L. Martin (auth.)
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Extra resources for Conjuring Moments in African American Literature: Women, Spirit Work, and Other Such Hoodoo
Tituba predicted that “Mary Warren was going to marry a rich Boston merchant, that she would live in a fine big house and have many servants” before reading the message in the cards, but “then she stopped talking, troubled because the cards did not say this. The cards said people would hang because of Mary Warren” (Petry 126). A clearer indication, however, that Petry’s Tituba is linked to the Caribbean traditions of obeah comes during the conjuring moment in which she divines her own future. Curiously, the first time the reader discovers that Tituba can see visions through water-gazing, it appears that Tituba herself simply happens upon such knowledge while daydreaming during her daily chores:34 Sometimes in the morning, when Tituba went outside to water the horse or feed the pigs, she stopped to stare into the stone watering trough.
Breslaw’s own research puts a damper on that assumption with the association of “Tattuba,” whom she steadfastly identifies as the same Tituba that Samuel Parris brought to Massachusetts, with the other “negro” children of that particular plantation; this does not automatically move Tituba into the box marked “Indian” either. As Jeanne Snitgen reveals, “the native population had disappeared by the time the British arrived in Barbados; thus the historical Tituba would have been of African-British or pure African parentage” (qtd.
The historical record, or lack thereof, would have one believe these women of color have little (if nothing at all) to offer in the making of an American quilt—that they are nothing more than silent participants in the Western, capitalist, whitewashed story of the young republic. Due largely to the rituals of rememory— led by raconteur and novelist alike—these historical figures have risen to iconoclasts: the foremothers of a tangible American conjuring past with identifiable, phenomenal female antecedents at the helm.