Summer Reading Study Guide Grade 8 Read the following article, and review the glossary of terms prior to reading A Break With Charity. Answer the Study Guide Questions as you read the book. ***** The Salem Witch Trials By Beth Irwin Kane The Puritan founders of Salem, Massachusetts were a severe people who firmly believed that Satan’s aim was to destroy God’s kingdom by tempting people to sin. By sin they meant caring more about themselves and their private pleasure and profit than about other people. As Salem prospered, many of her townspeople began to appreciate the finer things in life. Merchants had made Salem a successful seaport, and the more they saw of the outside world, the more they liked it. Life was not so easy, however, for the farmers who lived beyond the town in a place called Salem Village. Their land was rocky and hilly, and unlike the townspeople, the villages had no time or money for luxuries. In fact, they still believed that such things were evil and began to suspect the townspeople of abandoning their Puritan ideals. The townspeople made the rules for both communities, and before long the farmers angrily noted that the laws invariably favored the town. They were ordered to help guard Salem from Indian attack even though the village was far more likely to be attacked than the town. When the farmers asked if they might build a church closer to home, permission was denied. They began to feel resentful and frustrated. It seemed that they had all the obligations of the citizens of Salem but few of the benefits. Their resentment built up over the years until Salem was ripe for the kind of disaster that befell her. Not surprisingly, when the witch trials began, most of the accusers were villagers, and many of the accused were townsfolk. The real trouble started in 1692, when some of the younger girls in Salem Village began to experiment secretly with magic. The minister’s daughter, his niece, and his servant tried to tell each other’s fortune. In time, more village girls joined them. One made a sort of crystal ball from an egg white suspended in a glass. She said that she hoped to see her future husband. Instead, she saw, or thought she saw, a coffin. She and her friends were terrified. They imagined that they saw all kinds of horrible things in the glass. Some of them developed a mental illness called hysteria and began to suffer convulsive fits. The doctor, along with the other villagers, believed that the girls’ playing with magic had summoned Satan and his witches into their midst. Frightened adults called the girls the “afflicted children” and urged them to disclose who had caused their suffering. At last, they admitted they were being tortured by witches. Perhaps some of the girls were afraid of being punished, so they gave the names of neighbors with whom their families had had cross words in the past. Still, the question of how to recognize a witch remained. The water test often used in European witch hunts was frowned upon in New England. This test required that the accused be tied up and thrown into deep water. Drowning proved her innocence. Obviously, this was a no win situation for the accused. Instead, Salem judges relied on the touch test and on spectral evidence. When a girl began to have a fit, the judge made the accused witch touch her. If the girl recovered, the witch might be guilty. The girls usually managed to recover when touched by one of the accused. Spectral evidence was even more definitive. If someone saw a human shape (or specter) that resembled an accused witch, it was accepted as evidence – even if the actual accused person was securely locked in prison. Often these specters actually assaulted the girls who claimed to see them. Sometimes these assaults took place in the courtroom. Basically, the trials came down to whether the jury believed the word of the accused or that of the group of accusers. Some of the girls may have faked fits and carried pins to prick themselves. They bit and pinched themselves when no one was watching and then blamed the accused. If one girl lied, the others backed her up. When people questioned their truthfulness, they themselves were accused. The girls accused famous people whom they had never even met, including the governor’s wife. In all, nineteen people and two dogs were executed, about one hundred fifty people were imprisoned, and many more were forced to flee from their homes. When some of the girls were taken to the neighboring town of Andover to look for witches, they wound up accusing many of the people in the town. The outraged citizens of Andover called an immediate halt to the witch hunt. So did many inhabitants of Salem. What happened in Salem in 1692 is one of the more shameful incidents in American history. While the accused did have many courageous people speak out in their defense, an entire town allowed itself to be swept away by malice, suspicion, or fear. Although many psychiatrists today might diagnose Salem’s trouble as a case of mass hysteria, it is important to look at the whole picture. The community had been divided for many years by geography, wealth, religion, and style of life, and was controlled by a strong and unforgiving religion that was on the verge of decline. Many of the accusers were people who were losing out, and many of those they accused were winning. Ultimately, this proved to be a fatal combination. In 1962, for a few dreadful months, the tables were turned. Salem Witch Hysteria: Glossary of Terms A number of terms might be unfamiliar to you or are used in a particular manner regarding the witchcraft trials. This glossary explains some of those terms. Afflicted To be distressed or tormented. It refers to those who appeared to be tormented by witchcraft. Congregation The members of a particular church. Devil’s Book A book in which the devil was reported to keep a record of the souls he owned. A person who signed his or her name in this book indicated that he or she was now a witch. Devil’s Mark A mark on a witch’s body where the devil or familiar sucked the blood of the witch, thereby feeding on her soul. Examination A pretrial hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to try the accused in court. Similar to an indictment or Grand Jury hearing today. Familiar A small animal, such as a cat or dog, that served as a messenger between the devil and the witch. Goodwife (Goody) A title of address for married women; equivalent of Mrs. Hysteria Physical ailments, such as pain, itching, or convulsions, caused by a mental state. A common use of the term is to describe a person who, due to some upsetting experience, screams or yells uncontrollably. The term is also used to describe a time of fear and irrationality among a large group of people (“mass hysteria”). Meeting House A place the town gathered for religious services, as well as political matters. Usually the largest building in a town. Minister The religious leader (also called reverend, pastor, or clergyman) of the Puritan Church in a town or village. Spectral Evidence Testimony that an accused witch’s spirit or ghost appeared to the accuser, sometimes tormenting the accuser. Theocracy Government ruled and/or controlled by a religion. Iran is a modern-day example. Witch As used in Puritan New England, a woman who had sold her soul to the devil, thereby becoming an enemy of the Christian church. A more general definition is someone who uses magic. Wizard A male witch. Study Guide Questions: A Break With Charity Character Identification As you meet each character and learn more about them, fill in any important information. Character Description & Important Information Susanna English Ann Putnam Reverend Parris Tituba John Indian Betty Parris Abigail Williams Johnathan Hathorne Mary Warren Joseph Putnam Mary Bradbury Sam Endicott Comprehension Answer these questions as you read. 1. When and where do the events of this novel take place? 2. Who was the father of Susanna English? 3. Why did the circle of girls who visited Tituba dislike Susanna? 4. When Dr. Griggs examined Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, what did he say their strange fits were caused by? 5. When the ministers prayed over the afflicted girls, what did they order them to do? 6. Why were Sarah Good and Sarah Osbourne accused of witchcraft? 7. When and why did Susanna’s friend Johnathan Hathorne begin to doubt the truth of the witchcraft accusations? 8. According to Tituba, when would Susanna’s brother return from the sea? 9. How did the evening celebration of Mary English’s engagement to Thomas Hitchbourne end? 10. What did Susanna’s brother William inform his family of in a letter? 11. Who was the first witch hanged on Gallows Hill? 12. What was the real reason Susanna stayed in Salem when her sister moved to Boston? 13. To whom did Susanna tell that the afflicted girls were pretending their symptoms and accusing innocent people? 14. Why did Susanna miss the chance to visit with her parents at John Alden’s house in Boston? 15. Who did Susanna have a late night conversation with on Gallows Hill which convinced her that there were no witches? 16. How was Giles Cory executed for witchcraft? 17. How did Susanna keep her promise to Mary Bradbury? 18. In the prologue and epilogue of the novel, why is Susanna in church 14 years after the witch hysteria? 19. Did Susanna English consult Tituba to learn the identity of her future husband? 20. Were nineteen innocent people hanged and one pressed to death during the Salem witchcraft hysteria? 21. Did Tituba tell Susanna that her brother would die at sea? 22. Did Salem town officials and ministers encourage girls to learn to read and write? 23. Did young Ann Putnam threaten to accuse Susanna’s parents of witchcraft if Susanna told people that the circle of afflicted girls was pretending to be bewitched? 24. Was Tituba the first Salem resident accused of witchcraft? 25. Did Abigail Hobbs confess to being a witch and then accuse her own parents of witchcraft? 26. Did Susanna English live with Reverend Parris while her parents were in jail? 27. Did Ann Putnam keep her promise by not accusing Susanna’s parents of witchcraft? 28. Were prisoners or their families required to pay their board while they were in jail? 29. Did the Governor of Massachusetts set up a special court, called the Court of Oyer and Terminer, to try the accused witches? 30. What does spectral evidence mean? 31. Were accused witches who refused to confess hanged? What happened to those who did confess? 32. Were Phillip English’s home and belongings confiscated by the sheriff after his arrest? 33. Were Susanna’s parents tried and convicted of witchcraft in Salem? 34. Did Susanna believe that Mary Bradbury was a witch who intended to harm her brother after her meeting with Captain Sam Endicott? 35. Did Giles Cory protect his family’s right to inherit his property by refusing to testify in court and avoiding a guilty verdict? 36. Were the parents of Susanna English two of the nineteen people hanged in Salem during the witchcraft hysteria? 37. Did Susanna ever forgive Ann Putnam for her role in the witch hysteria? 38. Does Susanna know how Sam Endicott knew that William would return to Salem on a ship named the Amiable Tiger?
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