The parochial snobbery of these people was partly responsible for their failure to convert the Indians. Probably they also preferred to take land from heathens rather than from fellow Christians. At any rate, very few Indians were converted, and the Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil’s last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand. To the best of their knowledge the American forest was the last place on earth that was not paying homage to God. (I. paragraph 10)
The Puritans in Salem saw the world divided into clear realms of power: good vs. evil. In this case, the narrator suggests that the forest was seen as the realm where evil prevailed; the town is the realm where good, or God, prevailed.
MRS. PUTNAM: Reverend Parris, I have laid seven babies unbaptized in the earth. Believe me, sir, you never saw more hearty babies born. And yet, each would wither in my arms the very night of their birth. I have spoke nothin’, but my heart has clamored intimations. And now, this year, my Ruth, my only – I see her turning strange. A secret child she has become this year, and shrivels like a sucking mouth were pullin’ on her life too. And so I thought to send her to your Tituba- PARRIS: To Tituba! What may Tituba-?
MRS. PUTNAM: Tituba knows how to speak to the dead, Mr. Parris. PARRIS: Goody Ann, it is a formidable sin to conjure up the dead! MRS. PUTNAM: I take it on my soul, but who else may surely tell us what person murdered my babies? PARRIS, horrified: Woman!
MRS. PUTNAM: They were murdered, Mr. Parris! And mark this proof! Last night my Ruth were ever so close to their little spirits; I know it, sir. For how else is she struck dumb now except some power of darkness would stop her mouth? It is a marvelous sign, Mr. Parris! PUTNAM: Don’t you understand it, sir? There is a murdering witch among us, bound to keep himself in the dark. (I.103-110)