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Asking Pardon of Men: Samuel Sewall and Responsibility

45 min

Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting as you should?

Observation Questions

  • Who is Samuel Sewall? What was Sewall’s role in the Salem Witch Trials? How did this role affect his identity during and after the trials?
  • Based on Sewall’s role at the trials, what was his purpose in life? Did he live up to that purpose?
  • What was Sewall’s purpose in his speech to the congregation? How did this change his identity?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • How and why did the individual exhibit a moral and/or civic virtue in facing and overcoming the challenge?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society and Samuel Sewall?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost him?
  • Would you react the same under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?
  • Students will analyze Samuel Sewall’s experiences of acting responsibly.
  • Students will understand the importance of acting with responsibility in their own lives.

Student Handouts