Study Guide

Mary English (a.k.a. the Sister) in A Break With Charity

By Ann Rinaldi

Mary English (a.k.a. the Sister)

We barely get to see Susanna's sister Mary, and most of the time she's at home helping her mom, doing chores at the Putnams's, or off in Boston and New York with her parents.

But just because Mary's in the background for most of the book doesn't mean she's not important. Right off the bat, Mary staying at home tells us a lot about her. After all, most women back in the day were expected to tend to the house and that's exactly what Mary does. (We've got oodles to say about the expectations for ladies in this book, so head on over to the "Themes" section and then join us back here.)

Plus, Mary spends a lot of her time focusing on her love life. She's got a beau who wants to marry her, and that makes her smile big time. Susanna spills the deets to us: "Mary was happily awaiting Thomas Hitchbourne. She had confided to me earlier that he was going to ask our father for her hand this evening" (14.14).

Mary is super excited about getting married, and while living with her parents and sis, she's been practicing the duties of a good colonial wife with all her sewing and cleaning. This means that by Salem standards, she's ready to get hitched.

So Mary is a model of a good teenage daughter in colonial America. What other ways is Mary important in the story?