Study Guide

Mary English (a.k.a. Mama E) in A Break With Charity

By Ann Rinaldi

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Mary English (a.k.a. Mama E)

Were you as impressed as we were when Mama English stood up for Sarah Cloyce? And were you as sad as us when she was carted off to jail? Mrs. Mary English has oodles of roles in Salem—she's married to Mr. E; mama to Susanna, Mary, and William; and she runs a shop. Plus, she was a real person who was really accused of witchcraft back in 1692. Oh, and she's just about the bravest gal in Salem.

Plus Mama E is charitable as all get-out. Before the witch madness starts, she sends lots of goods to the poor around Salem—yep, she's super nice from the very beginning—and then when she ends up in jail, she doesn't wallow in her sadness. Instead, she makes a bunch of new friends:

We went once that week to see Mama in Salem Prison. It was such a terrible place that Mary and I wept openly. But Mama was so busy attending to the other women that she could not abide our tears. (15.84)

Wow, we're seriously impressed. Salem Prison is so horrible that Mary and Susanna ball their eyes out… but not Mama E. She's only focused on one thing: being kind as can be. She's not about to let prison change her, so she stays brave and compassionate even when she's locked up.

So this means Mama E is filled with oodles of good qualities—she's super caring, brave, and strong—and the only witchcraft she's guilty of is being one of the kindest people in the book.

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