PURITAN LAWS AND CHARACTER CommonLit Answers [Free Access]

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Discussion Questions & Answers

Following are our answers based on the questions provided:

Q.1. Consider everything you have learned about the Puritans from school, books, movies, etc. What is your overall view or opinion of this historical group? How does this compare to our generalizations or stereotypes about the Puritans?
Ans: My overall view of this historical group is still mostly negative. Although Puritans sought good ideals and a manner to be closer to God, their practices could be quite dehumanizing. They were judgmental, paying attention to other people’s sins and harshly punishing anything that went against their beliefs. Freedom of action and speech was restricted where Puritan beliefs were prevalent.
The information I have learned served to reinforce our generalizations about the Puritans.
-The Puritans were a religious group belonging to the Protestant Church.
-Their main goal was to purify their religious practices, getting rid of any ritual originally belonging to the Catholic Church and which was not based directly on the Bible.
-Puritans are to this day seen as a strict group. They were famous, for instance, for the witch trials in Salem.
-Their concern with holiness and chastity translated into judgment of others. Sins were constantly being watched for, and -the punishment for them was often excessive.

Q.2. What values does modern America share with the Puritans? How do these leftover Puritan values make America unique? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.
Ans: In terms of values, modern America shares a value with the Puritans in terms of freedom from tyranny. The Puritans sought religious freedom and independence from the Church of England, while modern America values political freedom and democracy. This can be seen in our system of electing presidents through elections.
However, it is important to note that there are also significant differences between modern America and the Puritan settlements. One major change is technology – advancements in technology have greatly impacted American society over time.

Q.3. Consider how different the modern U.S. is compared to the Puritan settlements of the 1600s. How do you think a Puritan from colonialist America would respond to life in the U.S. today? How has America changed over time? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.
Ans: A Puritan from colonial America would likely have a difficult time adjusting to life in the modern United States. In the 1600s, Puritans lived in strict religious communities where certain behaviors and practices were strictly regulated. They believed in living a simple and pious life, adhering to strict moral codes.
One major difference between the Puritan settlements and modern America is the level of personal freedom and individualism. In colonial times, people were expected to conform to societal norms and follow strict rules of behavior. For example, they were not allowed to wear revealing clothing or engage in activities considered sinful, such as smoking in public.
In contrast, modern America values personal freedom and individual rights. People are generally free to express themselves through their clothing choices or engage in activities that may have been considered taboo during Puritan times. This shift towards greater personal freedom can be seen as evidence of how America has changed over time.
Additionally, a Puritan from colonial America might find it challenging to navigate the diverse cultural landscape of modern society. The United States today is home to people from various ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds who hold different beliefs and practices. This diversity would likely be unfamiliar and potentially unsettling for a Puritan accustomed to living within a homogeneous community.

Q.4. Henry William Elson writes that “there is no more admirable character in history than the New England Puritan of the seventeenth century,” (Paragraph 7). How do you view this statement today, in light of the fact that he goes on to add that all colonies had slaves? (Paragraph 12)
Ans: They were governed by different administrations, and their goals and aspirations, as well as the majority of their laws and historical events, were the same in light of the fact that he goes on to add that all colonies had slaves.
A region under foreign rule is known as a colony. Colonies are still independent of the government of the original country, although they are governed by foreign colonizers.
Although they were governed by different administrations, their goals and aspirations, as well as the majority of their laws and historical events, were the same.


Assessment Questions & Answers

Following are our answers based on the questions provided:

Q.1. What is the author’s main purpose in the passage?
Ans: to expand upon Puritan religion, culture, law, and its historical impact on the American colonies.

Q.2. PART A: Which of the following statements best summarizes the relationship between religion and law in Puritan New England?
Ans: Law and religion were closely tied, as religious law heavily influenced legal practices and governing.

Q.3. PART B: Which TWO of the following quotes best support the answer to Part A?
Ans: “The State was founded on religion, and religion was its life. The entire political, social,
and industrial fabric was built on religion.” (Paragraph 5)
“No further proof of the legalistic tendencies of Puritan worship is needed than a glance
at their own laws.” (Paragraph 6)

Q.4. How does paragraph 7 contribute to the development of ideas in the excerpt?
Ans: It argues that the Puritans admitted to their own mistakes and tried to make up for them, which is a value the author believes Americans still practice today.

Q.5. According to the text, what happened to the Puritans’ influence in New England over time?
Ans: The Puritan’s influence in New England had been very softened over time.


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In CommonLit, “PURITAN LAWS AND CHARACTER” is one of the students’ favorite passages authored by Henry William Elson for grade 10 students.

“Puritan Laws and Character” by Henry William Elson provides a detailed account of the Puritan society in the seventeenth-century New England colonies.


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