Study Guide

A Break With Charity Women and Femininity

By Ann Rinaldi

Women and Femininity

Susanna is in that wonderfully awkward stage of life also known as her teen years, though back in the day teenager wasn't really a word. Instead, lasses were either a girl (a.k.a. a child) or a woman (a.k.a. old enough to be married). In A Break with Charity, Susanna isn't really a kid anymore, but she's not about to get hitched either.

Since Susanna's not a girl or a woman, this means she's a little lost, just like so many of the other dudettes in Salem. In fact, the girls who end up accusing townsfolk of being witches are all around the same age. These girls don't have a ton of freedoms in Salem, so they decide to make some themselves. No one knows for sure what started the witch madness in Salem, but this book has a guess: it's all about the teenage girls.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How does the Salem community define femininity? What traits do they look for in an ideal woman?
  2. What constraints do the women in this book experience? Do they also experience freedoms? How so?
  3. How does gender relate to marriage in A Break with Charity? How are the married women treated in their families and in the community? What about single women?

Chew on This

Women in Salem are powerful and that's a good thing. Without powerful ladies, this whole witchcraft nonsense would never have stopped.

Women in Salem are powerful and that's a bad thing. Thanks to the power of the afflicted girls, lots of people in Salem are killed.

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