Mccarthyism and the Witch of Blackbird Pond Book: Parallel Views and Messages


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McCarthyism is a period of time that Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy became well-known. This was during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Elected to the Senate in 1946, McCarthy formed investigations that would expose potential communists within the U.S. government. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, McCarthyism is “the political practice of publicizing accusations of disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence.” McCarthy accused people of communism without having found evidence against them. This is very similar to what happens in the Witch of Blackbird Pond. People like Kit and Hannah are accused of something just because it is not normal for the people to accuse them.

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond, written by Elizabeth George Speare, gives a good representation of McCarthyism. In the book, a girl named Katherine Tyler leaves her old life behind to live in Connecticut for a year. While she is there, she learns that her life is much different than the lives of these people. The book shows how Kit attempts to fit into this new life and build relationships with the people. Many people she met became her friends while some did not get along with her. She even had trouble with some family members. The special lifestyle was used to freak out the population and she was considered an outcast. She becomes friends with a woman named Hannah Tupper who was also in the same boat.

The community was so shocked at the things Kit did that they called her a witch. The first time this occurs is when Katherine arrives in Connecticut. After a little girl drops her toy, Kit dives into the frigid cold water to retrieve it. Where Kit was from, this was completely normal. However, here this was witchcraft. The people labeled Kit without any information and proof. They were surprised so they just assumed. This is much like McCarthyism. The things that people were doing within the government were not normal, so Joseph McCarthy accused them of being communists. He didn’t take time to look for evidence but merely came to an unknown conclusion. This caused great fear and confusion among many people.

McCarthy was going too far in his search for communists. The senator was re-elected in 1952. He was appointed Chairmanship of the Committee on Government Operations of the Senate. He took advantage of his position, making numerous investigations on departments of government for a couple of years. McCarthy was very confident and made his accusations appear true. He asked many people a lot of questions, trying to get them to admit to their communist ways. Hard-working job-holders were forced out of their position due to McCarthy. His accusations and arguments were never valid but the way he operated helped him succeed in his intentions.

McCarthy’s wrong intentions and false accusations were seen when Edward R. Murrow criticized him on television. After people realized what Joseph McCarthy was doing, they greatly disapproved. McCarthyism died right then and so did McCarthy himself just three years later. At the end of Speare’s book, the community drops their accusations of Kit and Hannah and the truth is seen that Kit was only helping people. The ending of McCarthyism and The Witch of Blackbird Pond is alike in that everyone eventually saw that there was no evidence for the false charges.

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