Study Guide

Joseph Putnam in A Break With Charity

Joseph Putnam

Joseph is a super important guy around Salem. He's married to Elizabeth Putnam, has a newborn baby, helps take care of Susanna and her family, and when folks in Salem or nearby towns are accused of witchcraft, you can bet that Joseph comes to their rescue. We like to think of him as Salem's Superman (but without the whole underwear on the outside stuff since, you know, the Puritans weren't really into that).

Joseph is a good guy in this book, which is extra cool since the real-life Joseph Putnam who lived in Salem thought the witch trials were bogus and stood up for his family to his nasty sister-in-law, Ann Putnam Sr. In the book, Joseph also helps lead the secret society to destroy the lying girls, but keep in mind that this part of the story is fictional. We don't really know how Joseph helped combat the witch mayhem in Salem, so Rinaldi thought it would be fun to make him a town leader, which makes for an awesome tale.

Susanna is definitely part of the Joseph Putnam Fan Club, and she looks to him for guidance all the time. He's kind of like her guardian angel:

The golden sun framed Joseph. And as I looked at him, in his breeches and summer shirt with the sleeves rolled up, as I beheld the slender strength of him, I felt a surge of love for this plain and decent man who had fought so hard for all the accused. Who had not pushed or berated me to speak, but waited patiently for me to do so. (22.34)

Wow, when we said Joseph was an angel, we meant it. Did you notice how he's got a halo effect around him from that "golden sun"? Everything about Joseph makes Susanna happy, from his rolled up sleeves to his patience. It's basically impossible not to think this guy is pretty great.

So there you have it: Joseph is the best. No seriously, the very best. Now what do you think? Do you see any flaws in this bloke?