Study Guide

Phillip English in A Break With Charity

By Ann Rinaldi

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Phillip English

Phillip English is Susanna's dad and Mrs. E's hubby. This guy actually lived in Salem back in 1692 and most of what we learn about him in this book is true. But here's the main thing you need to know: this bloke is half powerful businessman and half rebel.

Here's the businessman half: Papa E is a seriously successful merchant, but he wasn't always that way. Nope—he worked his way from the ground up when he arrived in colonial America. He got some dirt under his nails, and now he's got the mansion to prove it.

And here's the rebel half (which is our favorite, if we're taking sides): When it comes to being a freethinker, Mr. E is good to go. He lets his daughters read books (the horror) and doesn't believe in all this witch hullaballoo. Just take a look at what he has to say about so-called witches in Massachusetts:

"Witches in Boston. I didn't believe it then, and I won't believe it now." (4.44)

Way to hold steady on this witch business, Mr. E.

To make him even more of a rebel, Mr. E doesn't even attend the Puritan meetinghouse (a.k.a. church) like the rest of Salem. Instead, he's an Episcopalian, so he goes to church in another town. (True story: the historical Phillip English was Episcopalian, too.) That might not sound like a huge deal, but in Salem it's a big no-no to go to a different church.

We're thinking Susanna got her bravery from her mama and her freethinking from her papa. What other traits do you see in Susanna that come from her dad?

Phillip English in A Break With Charity Study Group

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