Study Guide

A Break With Charity Chapter 4

By Ann Rinaldi

Chapter 4

My Father's House

  • Susanna comes home in the middle of dinner, and her older sis, Mary, is jealous that she's been out all day. Mary, on the other hand, was inside sewing all day. Oh, and daydreaming about her beau, Thomas Hitchbourne, who should be proposing any day now.
  • All this lovey dovey chit chat lets us know that Susanna has a beau of her own—his name is Johnathan Hathorne, and he's the son of a magistrate (a.k.a. judge) in town. He and Susanna have been flirting, but he hasn't been around lately.
  • Time for Susanna to give us some more family backstory. Her dad hails from the Isle of Jersey, a small island by France that's actually affiliated with Britain. When he was eighteen he journeyed to Salem and became a peddler (basically someone who travels around and sells goods), so while he might be a fancy businessman now, he remembers that he started much lower on the food chain.
  • Susanna's mom's family was Virginia planters, and she met her future hubby when she offered him a drink of beer. Mrs. English likes that they live a comfortable life, but she feels guilty about it, too—in fact, she feels like God might be punishing her family for being so successful. But at least Mrs. E is always charitable to the poor. And that's pretty awesome.
  • When Susanna shares her news about the ships coming into Boston, her dad agrees to look into it. Phew.
  • Over dinner, this little family also gabs about witchcraft. A few years ago in Boston, an Irish washerwoman was accused of being a witch. (By the way, this is a true story, folks. The washerwoman, Ann Glover, was called a witch in 1688). And Mr. E says that Reverend Cotton Mather encouraged the witch fanatics. Mr. E. doesn't like Cotton one bit, and even calls him "a dunderhead" (4.44).
  • There's a knock on the door, and things get a wee bit too exciting for Susanna. You see, Sarah Good and her daughter are there to talk to Mr. E. Uh-oh, our girl is about to get found out.
  • So after dinner, Susanna talks to her papa. He says she hid the whole truth from her mom, which is the same as lying. Point Dad. But Susanna says she did a good thing by giving goods to the poor woman. Okay, point Susanna. We figure Susanna starts to take the lead when she gets all philosophical, telling her dad that she can't get behind all the Puritan ideas; he seems pretty impressed with his daughter's free-thinking ways.
  • In fact, Mr. E. likes that his daughter is thinking for herself. But he also has a warning for his little girl: keep your ideas to yourself, kiddo. The judges in the town are sticklers for conformity, and they want everyone in town to believe the exact same things, so Susanna needs to learn to keep her own ideas hushed up.
  • So Susanna and her papa are all good. But he tells her that her punishment for her white lie will be not joining him in Boston, her favorite city. And where does Susanna go instead of Boston? Well back to Tituba's, of course.