Skip to Main Content

A Pox to You! Cotton Mather, the Inoculation Crisis, and Purpose

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 in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • What role did Cotton Mather play in the advancement of modern medicine?
  • How did this discovery benefit mankind?
  • What responsibility does Cotton Mather feel toward his fellow citizens in Boston? How does this shape his purpose?

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?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • 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 Cotton Mather’s performance during the smallpox outbreak in Boston in the eighteenth century
  • Students will understand how they can pursue their purpose in their own lives
  • Students will apply this knowledge to pursue the purpose in their own lives.

Student Handouts