We vote by name in this society, not by acreage.
In Act I, Putnam instructs Parris to look for witchcraft in Salem after Mrs. Putnam implies that the Devil killed her daughters. Proctor dislikes Parris but defends him because Abigail said that the witchcraft rumors were untrue. Proctor also reminds Putnam, who is obsessed with his property, that his name, or his reputation, matters more than his land. Proctor later sacrifices his life to save his name and integrity.
I labor the earth from dawn of day to blink of night, and I tell you true, when I look to heaven and see my money glaring at his elbows—it hurts my prayer, sir, it hurts my prayer. I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin’ houses.
When Hale asks the Proctors in Act II why they have a poor church attendance record, Proctor explains that he resents Parris, who constantly lobbies for more money, resources, and gaudy tokens like “golden candlesticks.” Proctor is also angry that while he works hard all day, Parris expects luxury because “I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College.” Proctor, a farmer, resents Parris’s superior attitude, especially since Proctor helped build the church.
If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property—that’s law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece.
In Act III, Giles accuses Putnam of making false accusations so he can buy abandoned property after the accused’s executions. Putnam has a history of false accusations. He accuses Proctor of stealing his lumber in Act I, and the narrator explains that Putnam and his brother falsely accused Salem’s previous minister of debt as revenge after he won the election over Putnam’s brother-in-law. The Putnams also fought a “land war” against the Nurses, and they later accuse Rebecca of witchcraft. Because the Putnams are the richest family in Salem, only they can afford to buy the empty land.