Interestingly enough, the women in "Vinegar Tom" all accept their sexuality as a curse. Jack's belief that Alice has stolen his potency demonstrates the belief also found in "The Crucible" that woman ultimately hold the power and, consequently, the blame for the corrupting, evil nature of sex. Sprenger and Kramer, the authors of Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), a very popular book in the seventeenth century, explain why women are simultaneously at the heart of all things sexual and evil:
In "Vinegar Tom," the significance of the sexual in the political relationships of the town's inhabitants is more clearly expressed. Specifically, women's sexual desire is simultaneously portrayed as natural and corrupting. The corrupting influence is portrayed through Jack, a married man, who lusts after Alice and believes she has adversely bewitched his potency. Jack blames Alice for his lack of sexual potency and soon he and his wife Margery have classified Alice's mother as a witch. "Vinegar Tom" demonstrates, as does "The Crucible," that political persecution is very usually underlaid with issues of personal vengeance. Jack and Margery cannot account for the failure of their farm so they credit their failures to Margery, an easy target.
The conversation and brief relationship between Clay and Lula has already been determined by Lula's pre-conceived notions of who Clay is. In contrast to the feminine view of the Orient explored in "M. Butterfly," the traditional Western view of Africa has been that of the "Dark Continent," savage, sexual, primitive. Consequently, this is what Lula expects and what she sees when she sees Clay. That he denies it, or doesn't even apparently fit into it, can only mean to her that he is suffering from some form of self-deception:
The West is so determined to view the East in a way that grants itself the power in the relationship that it refuses to see what is actually there. Undoubtedly, it could not have been difficu