Study Guide

A Break With Charity Secrets

By Ann Rinaldi

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There are oodles of secrets in Salem, and they seem to crop up at every turn. Here are the secrets we really enjoyed eavesdropping on:

  • Ann Putnam's secret clique. Whether it's their meetings with Tituba or their pact to lie about being possessed, these girls have secret-keeping in the bag.
  • Bridget Hobbs's secret life in the woods… And all those secrets she learns about the townsfolk.
  • Joseph's secret society of anti-witch-trial folks.
  • And Susanna's big secret, of course—that one's a doozy.

Are there other important moments with secrets that stood out to you?

One thing secrets let us know is that the truth is hard to come by in Salem. This result of this is that folks are super suspicious—you'd be hard pressed to find a character that doesn't have some trust issues in this book.

Just take Susanna's fear of telling her secret to Joseph. He's the most trustworthy guy in, well, pretty much the whole wide world and Susanna is still worried:

"You were living with us by then. Didn't you know I was working with others against the witchcraft?"

"Yes, Joseph. And I wanted to tell you—oh, I did! But there was Mary Warren, trying to tell what she knew—and no one would believe her. And then nobody thought Bridget Bishop would hang. No one ever thought they would start executing people in Salem!" (19.55-56)

Joseph wants to know why Susanna didn't confide in him, and she's got loads of excuses. Can you tell how super scared she was to tell her secret? All those exclamation marks and dashes let us know that Susanna was feeling super antsy, which makes sense since her secret-keeping has some pretty big consequences, like Bridget Bishop being killed.

All these secrets remind us that trust is really important in this book. And not trusting comes at a cost. For instance, if Susanna had a bit more faith in her buddy Joe and told him her secret earlier, could Bridget Bishop have lived? Now that's a question that would make Susanna do a double-take.

What else are secrets related to in this book?

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