Study Guide

A Break With Charity The Name English

By Ann Rinaldi

The Name English

Why It's Cool To Be English

If you're looking to get things done in Salem, it's good to be part of the English family. Having the last name English is a big deal since Mr. E is a well-off merchant and he's pretty well-known around colonial America. This makes the English clan into celebrities every so often.

So when Susanna wants to talk her way into Tituba's, she figures she can do some name-dropping. And when Mama English is called a witch, her hubby uses his influence to keep her out of jail for a bit. Even when William is imprisoned in Guadeloupe as a pirate, his name helps gain his freedom:

"For the captain of a ship from Massachusetts Bay Colony was in court, seeking pirates who had plundered many of his vessels. He recognized my name. And since our name is much respected amongst seamen and merchants, it turned out that the pirates had not taken everything from me." (15.33)

Now that's a pretty powerful name. William isn't even in colonial America and the English name still comes in handy. In fact, without having this name, we're not sure what would've happened to big bro Will.

Why It Stinks To Be English

So the name English is pretty cool, but if you ask the afflicted girls, the name also has a darker side. Here's the deal: back in the day, the last name English was actually L'Anglois. Susanna's dad hails from a teeny tiny place called the Isle of Jersey which is off the coast of France, and that's why his name is originally French.

This might not seem like much, but it's actually a huge deal. There was a lot of hubbub between England and France in the old days. Plus France was Catholic, a super big no-no for the Puritans. And you can bet that the afflicted girls don't like Susanna's family's connection with France one bit.

So the name English has a good association and a bad one. Are there other names that are really powerful in A Break with Charity?

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