Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015
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In this section, the book describes a nameless character who coincidentally shares the same occupation and desires as the author of this book, Nathaniel Hawthorne.Â The narrator works as a chief executive officer at the Salem Custom House, meaning that he collects tariffs on foreign goods. Unfortunately, not many ships dock at Salem's Port for whatever reason, so the narrator often finds himself with little to do during the work week. One gloomy day, the narrator tries to keep himself entertained by exploring the abandoned second floor of the custom house. While checking out a room upstairs, he discovers a scarlet A and an old note written by a former chief executive officer at the Custom House nearly 200 years earlier. While examining the scarlet letter, he holds it over his chest, but drops it immediately because he feels a burning sensation in his chest. He then reads the note, which tells a story about a woman who committed adultery. This inspires him to write his own spin on the note, even though it wouldn't be factually accurate. At the end of this section, a new president is elected, and he loses his job, which forces the narrator into following his dream of becoming a writer to make a living.Questions about the Custom House:
Who is this nameless narrator who works in the Custom House?
Why didn't the narrator follow his dream of becoming a writer?
If the narrator hates his job and is bored because there is no work for him to do, why doesn't he quit and follow his dream?
What inspired the narrator to go up to the second floor of the custom house knowing that it was unused and probably empty?
Why did he feel a burning sensation when he held the scarlet letter up to his chest?
Why did the narrator lose his job after a new president was elected?My Reactions towards the Custom House:
I was kind of surprised to see that the narrator shares so many traits as the author, but wasn't given a name. I would have assumed that if the author intended to put himself in the story, he would have named his character after himself. I wonder why he did this.
The book described the building he worked in as being run down and rotting. I believe that this adds to the narrator's resentment of his job because I think it makes him feel as if his job isn't important enough to work in a building that isn't falling apart.
The narrator also described that his Puritan ancestors would have looked down upon his desire to become a writer. This shocked me because back in Puritan times, Monks Priests wrote a vast majority of all books, and they were held in high esteem. One would think that his or her ancestors would be proud to have a writer in their bloodline because a studious person was looked up to.Journal Entry: Chapter 1 "The Prison Door" and Chapter 2 "The Marketplace" Summary of Chapter 1
In chapter 1, the scene is set at the Jailhouse in Salem. A throng of hooded people dressed in somber clothing are gathered around the jailhouse door to scorn and belittle the offender who is about to be released. The area around the Jailhouse is described as being dreary and dead, even the trees and grasses have died because of the gloom radiating from the jailhouse, except for 1 lone rosebush, which provides a relief for the condemned because it is a "sweet moral blossom" which shows a sign of forgiveness.Summary of Chapter 2
In chapter 2, Hester is released from the Jailhouse, holding an infant and is escorted up onto the scaffold where she will stand for 3 hours as people stare and taunt her. As she is standing up on the scaffold she reminisces about her parents and their house, until her attention is drawn to an old, misshapen man. This misshapen man is the person she married while in Europe before coming to America. By this point, her attention has been drawn back to the crowd, which scares her briefly, causing her to squeeze her baby out of instinct.Questions about Chapters 1 and 2:
Why are people dressed in hoods as they gather around the Jailhouse?
How has the Rosebush survived the sullen atmosphere it is growing in?
Has Hester seen the rosebush? Has it affected her feelings in any way?
Why was Hester allowed to take an infant into a dangerous environment such as the Jailhouse? Didn't the Puritans consider the safety of the baby?
While standing up on the scaffold, why did Hester choose to reminisce about her parents?My Reactions towards Chapters 1 and 2:
Why do the Puritans consider the suffering and punishment of others as a source of entertainment? Based on their morals, wouldn't they want to alleviate some of Hester's suffering, rather than add to it? I find that the lack of compassion shown by the Puritans in the Scarlet Letter very disturbing.
If the Jailhouse was designed to detain violent and destructive criminals, why was Hester held there? Hester did not harm or endanger anyone; therefore I believe that she didn't need to be treated as someone who is dangerous.
Was the rosebush planted in front of the Jailhouse intentionally? Or was it a sign of forgiveness from God? I find this very odd that something so beautiful would even survive in an environment so dreary and dead.
If wearing the scarlet A was not a repercussion of Hester's offense, why did she even bother making it? If I committed that sin and had to face severe ridicule because of it, I wouldn't want to attract more scorn unto myself by wearing a big, extravagant scarlet A.Journal Entry: Chapter 3 "The Recognition" and Chapter 4 "The Interview" Summary of Chapter 3
In this chapter, Hester is continuing her punishment on the scaffold. She sees her husband, who is dressed in Indian clothing. He makes a gesture to Hester, telling her not to draw attention to him. After making this gesture, he begins asking a man in the crowd about Hester's crime and who the co-sinner was. The man replies that she was the wife of a wealthy Englishman from Amsterdam and that she committed adultery, but refuses to reveal the father of the child. For some reason, Chillingworth makes a comment about how such an old man could keep a young woman such as Hester happy. After this, we are introduced to Reverend Dimmesdale, Reverend Wilson, and Governor Bellingham, who question Hester in attempt to get her to confess to who the real father is but to no avail. Then Reverend Wilson attempts to make her reveal the father by giving her a sermon on sin, which makes her scarlet A glow. After the three try everything they can think off, they give up, and Hester is taken back to the Jailhouse.Summary of Chapter 4
In chapter 4, Hester meets her husband face to face for the first time since the beginning of the novel. Since he is a physician, he is called into the Jailhouse to drug Hester, and make her more susceptible to interrogation. When he enters Hester's jail cell, he offers her a potion, but Hester refuses it out of fear of being poisoned for revenge. Chillingworth tries once more to get Hester to reveal the father, but she refuses. As Chillingworth is walking out of the entrance of the cell, he makes Hester promise to keep his identity secret. Because of his evil facial expressions, Hester calls her husband a reincarnated version of the devil. Then Chillingworth vows to find the father of her baby, and leaves the Jailhouse.Questions about Chapters 3 and 4:
Did Roger Chillingworth think that Hester would take him back after abandoning her in America for many years?
Why didn't Chillingworth want attention drawn to him as Hester was standing on the scaffold?
Why did Chillingworth lie about his identity when he asked the man about Hester's crime?
Why did Hester withhold the name of the father of her child? Isn't she a little bit angry towards the father for not sharing any of the punishment?My Reactions towards Chapters 3 and 4:
I was surprised that Chillingworth sent Hester to America instead of keeping her with him until he finished his work. Wouldn't newlyweds want to stay together no matter what?
On top of what was said above, I also wanted to know what Chillingworth was up to in Amsterdam after Hester left. Finishing up some work before he left obviously wasn't the only thing he was up to while in Amsterdam for multiple years after Hester left.
When I read his remark about how "her husband must have been foolish to think that he could keep a young wife happy," I wondered why he married Hester. Typically, when one is in love, they look out for the best of the other. In this relationship, it seems as if Chillingworth just wanted Hester as a "trophy wife."
After Reverend Wilson gave Hester the sermon about eternal damnation and sin, I felt really bad for Hester. After all she had been through that day, she must have been feeling many unpleasant emotions, and Reverend Wilson just amplified the feeling of guilt within her.Journal Entry: Chapter 5 "Hester at Her Needle" and Chapter 6 "Pearl" Summary of Chapter 5:
In chapter 5, the author focuses on Hester's life after being released from prison. Hester is granted her freedom to live wherever she pleases, but she chooses to stay in Boston. Even though many years have passed, Hester was still considered an outcast and was forced to live on the outskirts of town. To support herself and Pearl, she works as a seamstress, and sells her goods in town. Her skill as a seamstress was described as being so great, that even the Governor wore her garments, despite their shameful source. Her work was held in such high regard that people asked her to craft things such burial shrouds, priestly vestments, and official's robes. All of this work afforded both Hester and Pearl a good life, but Hester still felt alienated from her community.Summary of Chapter 6:
In chapter 6, the author focuses on Pearl for the first time through the entire novel thus far. Much like the rosebush in chapters 1 and 2, Pearl is the only consolation for Hester as the rosebush is the only consolation for the prisoners. Hester dresses Pearl in fine clothing, despite Puritan ethics. In addition to the scarlet letter, Pearl is another symbol of Hester's sin. Pearl is described as being a defiant child, for example, when Hester attempts to teach Pearl about God, Pearl refuses to listen, and she constantly produces mischief. Pearl also seems to be a little more aware of her surroundings than other infants. While many other 2 or 3 year olds would have disregarded the scarlet A entirely, Pearl asks Hester about it constantly.Questions about Chapters 5 and 6:
Why doesn't Hester leave Boston after she is granted her freedom?
Why hasn't her community let bygones be bygones and re-accepted Hester back into their community?
Why does Hester violate Puritan dress ethics with her sewing? Hasn't she offended the Puritan community enough?
Even though Hester's products violate the dress code for Puritans, why do people still purchase them?
If Pearl wasn't an illegitimate child, would her behavior have changed?My Reactions towards Chapters 5 and 6:
I was shocked to read that Hester decided to stay in Boston, despite her reputation there. If I were in this situation, I definitely would have left and started anew in a new colony or even Europe, that way Chillingworth would have been off of my back, and I wouldn't have to face any more scorn. It was a very brave mood on her part.
While reading this section, I half-expected Hester to be allowed back into the community, because people started to interact with her in a positive way for the first time in a long time, by buying her stuff. Unfortunately for her, that was the only positive interaction she would ever receive from them.
Towards the end of chapter 5, I was disgusted to read how she was treated by the poor people she served. Even though she made them clothes free of charge, the poor people still treated her in a disrespectful manner. The least they could have done was treat her with respect.
After reading chapter 6, I discovered that Pearl was nothing like what I expected her to be. When I first saw the title of chapter 6, I expected a sweet little girl, who was perfect in every way, and caused no trouble, but in actuality, Pearl was every parent's nightmare.Journal Entry: Chapter 7 "The Governor's Hall" and Chapter 8 "The Elf Child and the Minister" Chapter 7 Summary
In this chapter, Hester is summoned to the Governor's hall to defend her custody over Pearl. While on the way to the Governor's hall, a group of children harass Hester and Pearl, but Pearl throws a tantrum and scares the group of children off. Rumors have spread that Pearl is a demon child, and it is questionable if Hester should raise her, because she is alone, and Pearl is a handful in addition to her work to support them. It is also questioned if Hester can raise Pearl in a moral and God-infused environment. While entering the hall, Hester and Pearl take notice of the ornate portraits and suits of armor which decorate the hall. While passing an especially lustrous set of armor, Pearl points out her mother's reflection in the statue, which frightens Hester because the fiery scarlet A dominates the reflection.Chapter 8 Summary
In this chapter, Hester meets with the Governor, Reverend Wilson, and Reverend Dimmesdale. Upon entering the conference room, Hester is asked why she feels she deserves to keep Pearl. She points out that she should keep Pearl because she can teach Pearl not to make the same choice she did. Then Wilson tests Pearl on her knowledge on religious topics. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to sway any of their choices in her favor, so Hester begs Dimmesdale to speak on her behalf. Dimmesdale says that Pearl is both a blessing and a curse from God. Pearl is a blessing because she is a smart and healthy child, but also a curse because on top of being mischievous, she is a constant reminder of her sin. He also says that the best place for a child to be is with its mother because there is a sacred bond between them. After this, the Governor and Reverend Wilson decide to let Hester keep Pearl. Infuriated that Hester was allowed to keep her child, Chillingworth went to the Governor, demanding that he reopen the case to determine who Pearl's father is, but he refuses. Hester is also asked by Mistress Hibbins if she would like to join a séance, but she refuses because she got to keep Pearl.Questions about Chapters 7 and 8:
How was Pearl able to scare off a group of children easily twice her age?
Why does Pearl point out the scarlet letter often, knowing that it causes her mother pain each and every time she is reminded of it?
How did rumors of Pearl being a devil child spread? Hester lives on the outskirts of town and doesn't appear to be "in the loop."
Why does Pearl refuse to answer any of Reverend Wilson's questions, knowing full well that will allow her to stay with her mother?
What makes Reverend Dimmesdale vouch for Hester? Considering he is the moral guru for the town, one would think that he wouldn't be inclined to speak on a sinner's behalf.My Reactions towards Chapters 7 and 8:
While reading the body of Chapter 7, I was confused on how the townspeople questioned whether or not Pearl was human. I assumed that this question arose from Pearls bad behavior and extreme awareness for her age, which made me seriously consider the theory that Pearl was the spawn of the devil.
Also while reading the body of Chapter 7, my perspective of the Governor changed. When he was first introduced, I imagined him as a shorter and wider fellow, but when I learned that he fought battles against the Indians with the suit of armor in the hall, my picture of him changed. Instead of a short, stocky man, I re-imagined him as a taller, well built character.
While glancing at the title of Chapter 8, I noticed that it is titled "The Elf Child and the Minister." The title made me wonder if little Pearl's facial figures had literally begun to look like those of an elf. Even having finished the book, I still cannot make sense of the title.
After reading the beginning of Chapter 8, I was flabbergasted at Reverend Dimmesdale's, Reverend Wilson's, and Governor Bellingham's treatment of Pearl. Upon entering the room these 3 fully grown men begin to tease a toddler by calling her a bird and demon child. On top of being fully grown men, these are the town leaders who are teasing Pearl. These men are supposed to be the epitome of morality and good behavior.Journal Entry Chapter 9 "The Leech" and Chapter 10 "The Leech and his Patient" Summary of Chapter 9:
In Chapter 9, Chillingworth has changed his name, and nobody knows his real past, except for Hester, who is bound to secrecy. He has become the town doctor, and has been accepted by the townspeople because they don't have access to quality medical supplies. The town sometimes refers to Chillingworth as a leech, because the use of leeches to cure diseases was common at that time. He is also referred to as a leech because Dimmesdale has been suffering from health problems because of Chillingworth's prodding and interrogation. It is also noted that Dimmesdale clutches his heart often. Because Dimmesdale has no wife or companion to live with, Chillingworth demands to live with him for health reasons. The minister's room is hung with pictures showing biblical scenes of adultery biblical punishment. As time passes, Chillingworth's trust is questioned because rumors spread of his past.Summary of Chapter 10:
In this chapter, the minister's signs of torture are becoming more and more visible. To make matters worse for Dimmesdale, Chillingworth is showing incredible persistence when it comes to discovering what Dimmesdale is hiding. Despite all of his attempts, Chillingworth still cannot determine what secrets Dimmesdale struggles to keep hidden. One day, Dimmesdale inquires Chillingworth about an odd herb. The doctor says that he found it above the grave of someone who buried their sins with them. Then Chillingworth begins to prod Dimmesdale more about buried sin, but Dimmesdale backs out. Suddenly the sounds of Pearl playing are heard from Dimmesdale's window, but Pearl drags her mother away when she sees Chillingworth because she thinks that he is the devil. The doctor asks Dimmsdale about his spiritual condition, but Dimmesdale basically tells him that its Gods business. The minister then apologizes for his behavior and then goes to bed. While Dimmesdale is sleeping, Chillingworth pulls back his shirt and reveals the ministers deepest secret.Questions about Chapters 9 and 10:
Why didn't Dimmesdale refuse when Chillingworth insisted on living with him? He knew that Chillingworth was after something that he was hiding.
Why is Dimmesdale punishing himself so severely?
How did the townspeople catch wind of Chillingworth's secret past?
Can Pearl detect evil in people she hasn't been in contact with? (I.E. Chillingworth?)My Reactions towards Chapters 9 and 10:
Since the Puritans believed in superstitions such as witches, etc, I cannot believe that the townspeople trusted a man with such an evil appearance. After learning that Dimmesdale had a secret earlier on in the novel, Chillingworth's body transformed from a tired, and old man to a nasty, dark being from all of his attempts to get Dimmesdale to reveal it.
After reading that Chillingworth insisted on living with Dimmesdale for "health reasons", I cannot believe that Dimmesdale actually accepted and allowed him to move in. He knew from previous chapters that Chillingworth would stop at nothing to find out about his secret.
After finishing Chapter 9, I learned that the term "leech" had 2 meanings when referring to Chillingworth. Originally it was a term used for all doctors at that time period, but as the chapter progressed, Chillingworth sucked all of the life out of Dimmesdale from his persistent questioning.
While reading Chapter 10, I was stunned that Pearl detected that Chillingworth was evil. She didn't really have any prior contact with him, and she doesn't live within the community. I believe that she is either really smart or observant or she has a special power.Journal Entry: Chapter 11 "Interior of a Heart" and Chapter 12 "The Ministers Vigil Summary for Chapter 11:
In this chapter, Dimmesdale is at the peak of his misery. Chillingworth will not stop playing games with him, and he is getting no sleep because of his guilt. Even though he is suffering mentally, physically, and even spiritually, he keeps his secret bottled up. While Dimmesdale feels worse, his sermons on sin keep getting better and better. To make things harder, he punishes himself physically, by whipping his back repeatedly with a lash, in addition to extreme fasting. One night, he plans to have a vigil where Hester once stood in an attempt to relieve his sin.Summary for Chapter 12:
In this chapter, Dimmesdale carries out his plan for a vigil on the scaffold. While standing up there, he fantasizes about revealing his sin, until Reverend Wilson, who is coming from a funeral for Governor Winthrop, passes by the scaffold. He thought about laughing when Wilson passed, but decided against it. After Wilson is gone, Dimmesdale laughs a little bit, which is accompanied by Pearl's laugh, who is also standing on the scaffold with Hester. The three hold hands and Dimmesdale feels energized. Pearl asks if Dimmesdale will stand with them tomorrow, but he says no. Suddenly, a meteor flies across the sky, which is in the shape of an A, which frightens Dimmesdale because it's a sign of his sin. After the meteor is out of sight, Chillingworth gets Dimmesdale off of the scaffold and takes him home.My Questions about Chapters 11 and 12:
Is Dimmesdale even worried about being caught anymore? Or has his guilt focused all of his energy to punishing himself?
How didn't Wilson notice Dimmesdale up on the scaffold?
Is the meteor a coincidence? Or a sign from God?My Reactions towards Chapters 11 and 12:
I was really shocked when I read that Dimmesdale was at the point that he was hitting himself to express his pain inside. I am really puzzled as to why he just doesn't confess now. He is at the point of death, is his secret really worth his life?
I could understand why he chose to stand on the scaffold to release his guilt. He chose to stand on the scaffold to mimic Hester' punishment because he is the co-adulterer. I believe that it took real strength to do that because anyone could have seen him doing that, and then he would have had to face his worst fear.
At first, while reading, I was a bit confused when Pearl asked if the minister would stand with them again tomorrow, because I thought that they had to keep standing up on the scaffold as a continuation of their punishment, but then it hit me that they were only standing up there because Dimmesdale was up there.Chapter 13 "Another View of Hester" and Chapter 14 "Hester and the Physician" Summary for Chapter 13:
In this chapter, Hester is becoming more and more active in the town. She frequently makes trips into town to donate food to the poor and to nurse the sick and injured. While she is still subject to prejudice even after 7 years, she is gradually being accepted back into the community. The weight of Pearl, her jobs, and prejudice have finally taken their toll on Hester. Much like Dimmesdale, the weight of their suffering has taken a toll on their physical appearances. She is no longer the beautiful woman she once was.Summary for Chapter 14:
In this chapter, Hester tries to alleviate some of Dimmesdale's suffering by telling Chillingworth to back off of him. When they go to speak with him, he tells her that he has heard that she can take off the scarlet letter, but she describes that it cannot be removed by human hands. She also thinks that it is time to tell Dimmesdale who Chillingworth really is, which makes Chillingworth realize that he has become a figure of pure evil, instead of the brilliant man he once was.My Questions about Chapters 13 and 14:
Why is Hester still the object of scorn after 7 years? Shouldn't the Puritans move onto something else?
Why is Hester still so kind to the people that treat her like dirt?
How can Chillingworth realize that he is so evil and not want to change his ways?My Reactions towards Chapters 13 and 14:
While reading, the author mentioned that Hester still accepted scorn from the townspeople after 7 years. I wondered if anyone else committed a serious sin in those 7 years who deserved a punishment similar to Hester. Or has Hester been used as a deterrent to keep everyone from messing up?
After reading chapter 13, I couldn't believe that Hester was still in Boston after all the insults she had taken, let alone taking care of and helping the people that put her down. That just goes to show that Hester is not only a model for sin but a model for supreme compassion.
What probably shocked me out of the whole book more than anything else was the fact that Chillingworth knew that he was evil, and still didn't want to change. Any normal human being can be inconsiderate or hurtful, when they are confronted about their behavior; they examine themselves and desire to change.Journal Entry: Chapter 15 "Hester and Pearl" and Chapter 16 "A Forest Walk" Summary for Chapter 15:
In this chapter, Hester resolves that she truly hates her husband, after the pure hatred he showed in the previous chapter. After Chillingworth leaves to go mix potions from the weeds he collected, Hester goes to find Pearl. She finds Pearl playing in the puddles on the beach, with an A shaped in seaweed on her chest. When Hester sees the A, Pearl and she engage in conversation about the A. Pearl mentions that she sees that Dimmesdale clutches his heart often. This shocks Hester because she learns that Pearl is supernaturally observant, which might endanger them all.Summary for Chapter 16:
In this chapter, Hester goes to meet with Dimmesdale in the forest to reveal Chillingworth's real identity to him. While walking through the forest, she decides to take Pearl along with her. The sunlight seems to follow Pearl as she plays in the forest, but seems to avoid Hester. Upon reaching a stream, they wait for Dimmsdale to arrive, and Pearl asks about the "black man" and how he correlates to the scarlet letter. To avoid conversation, she tries to get Pearl to play, but Pearl doesn't want to out of fear of the "black man." Hester tells Pearl that it is not the "black man" who gave her the symbol; it was the minister who did.My Questions about 15 and 16:
Why did Hester even marry Chillingworth in the first place? She knew full well that neither of them were in love.
Is Pearl really as observant as she is believed to be? Or is gathering this information from an outside source?
How does Hester think that revealing Chillingworth's real identity going to help Dimmesdale?My Reactions towards Chapters 15 and 16:
I was felt almost scared for Hester, Pearl and Dimmesdale at this point in the story. I was sure that Chillingworth had something even more sinister up his sleeve.
After reading about Pearls constant haranguing about the scarlet letter, I began to doubt that she was thinking for herself at this point. Someone must be putting her up to it to either test how Hester responds when Pearl asks that question or to gain information about the ties between Dimmesdale and Hester.
When Pearl and Hester went to go tell Dimmesdale who Chillingworth really was, I wondered how Hester thought that would help Dimmesdale.Journal Entry: Chapter 17 "The Pastor and his Parishioner" and Chapter 18 "A Flood of Sunshine" Summary for Chapter 17:
In this chapter, Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the forest to avoid Chillingworth and the public. They join hands, and Hester reveals Chillingworth's real identity to him. This makes Dimmesdale angry, and he starts blaming her for his sin. To get him to stop, Hester pulls him in close to see the scarlet letter, which makes him forgive her because it shows him that Chillingworth is a bigger sinner than the both of them. To avoid any more suffering caused by Chillingworth, they plan to sail away to Europe, and live with Pearl as a family. Realizing that this is his opportunity to finally release all of the pain and suffering within him, Dimmesdale plans to reveal his secret to everyone in Salem.Summary for Chapter 18:
After plotting their escape, the couple feels a burst of new life within them. Hester unties her hair for the first time in many years and removes the scarlet letter and Dimmesdale's sullen face has finally picked up. He tells Hester that he can feel joy again, and is excited to finally get to know his daughter.My Questions about Chapters 17 and 18:
Why didn't Hester fight back when Dimmesdale was yelling at her?
Will Chillingworth expose Dimmesdale and Hester before Dimmesdale can do it himself?
Why is Pearl cautious of her transformed mother?My Reactions towards Chapters 17 and 18:
When I read that Dimmesdale yelled at Hester and blamed her for his sin, I was surprised that she acted in the manner that she did. I would have expected her to break and fight with Dimmsdale because she easily could have defended herself in that argument. But her action did make sense, because a fight would have divided them, which is the exact opposite of what they needed at that moment, if they wanted to steal away and start a new life.
After Hester confronted Dimmesdale about Chillingworth I could really feel the all of the suspense. It was like I was experiencing the same fear of Chillingworth that Dimmesdale and Hester felt.
After reading that Pearl was afraid of her transformed mother, I was mystified. I expected Pearl to love her mother even more than she did before, now that she was finally happy.Journal Entry: Chapter 19 "The Child at the Brookside" and Chapter 20 "The Minister in a Maze" Summary for Chapter 19:
In this chapter, Hester calls Pearl to rejoin her, but Pearl refuses, because she doesn't recognize her transformed parents. To get Pearl to come back, Hester ties her hair back up and pins the scarlet letter on once more. After the letter is fully secured, Pearl rushes back to her mother and father. She envelopes Hester in a hug and kisses her, along with the scarlet letter. Without revealing that Dimmesdale is her father, Hester tries to get Pearl to embrace Dimmesdale as well. Dimmesdale kisses her once, but then washes the kiss off in the stream.Summary for Chapter 20:
On the way back to the town, Dimmesdale cannot believe the energy he feels. He even runs and skips with Pearl. When they reach the town, Hester makes reservations on the ship to Europe because she has become acquainted with the captain due to her charity work. Dimmesdale feels like revealing himself at that very moment, but restrains himself to preserve their plans. He also has impulses to do other weird things, like screaming blasphemous statements in a crowd, or swearing at a group of little kids. At the end of this chapter he tells Chillingworth that he no longer needs his medication, which worries the doctor, because Dimmesdale does know his real identity. When Dimmesdale, Hester and Pearl return home, Dimmesdale goes right to work, on what he thinks is going to be his best sermon ever.My Questions about Chapters 19 and 20:
Why didn't Hester reveal that Dimmesdale was Pearl's father?
Why does Pearl wash off Dimmesdale's kiss in the stream?
Why does Dimmesdale have all of these irrational impulses?My Reactions towards Chapters 19 and 20:
When Hester told Pearl to show some affection towards Dimmesdale, I wondered why she didn't outright tell her that Dimmesdale was her father. They were leaving in 4 days anyway; it probably wouldn't have done any harm.
When Pearl finally allowed Dimmesdale to kiss her, she immediately washed it off in the stream. More towards the middle of the novel, Pearl seemed to like Dimmesdale, but now she doesn't seem to accept him. I found that change in Pearl's behavior very confusing.
When Hester and Dimmesdale left the forest, I almost screamed at Dimmesdale through the pages of the book when he came close to foiling the whole plan with his insane impulses. What kind of priest even considers yelling blasphemous statements or profanities at young children?Journal Entry: Chapters 21 "The New England Holiday" and Chapter 22 "The Procession" Chapter 21 Summary:
In this chapter, Hester and Pearl are in the town common, waiting for the Election Sermon and ceremonies. As usual, Hester is dressed in all gray, with her hair tied up and the scarlet letter pinned to her bosom. Like Dimmsdale, she was anxious to finally leave Boston and start a new life with Pearl and Dimmsdale. The Puritans seemed to be happy for this event, but still were dreary because of their moral obligations. The only people that really treated this occasion like a celebration were the Indians and the sailors, and because of the occasion, they were not looked down upon. Towards the end of the chapter, the captain of the ship approached Hester and told her that they would have to make room for Chillingworth as he would be traveling with them for Dimmesdale's safety.Chapter 22 Summary:
Distraught from the fact that Chillingworth would be traveling with them, Hester became frantic, although she didn't have time to think of the effects of Chillingworth's plan before the procession started. Dimmesdale appears to be in very good shape, with more energy and happiness than he has felt in a long time. Throughout the novel, Dimmesdale seemed to be a very isolated person, but now, because he is home free from his guilt, everyone seems to notice the extreme level of energy and joy within him. In this chapter, Dimmsdale finally gets to say his sermon that he spent so much time on. Dimmesdale's sermon is full of feelings of sorrow and suffering, and people are really moved by it because they can feel the passion and sorrow within it. While Dimmesdale is speaking, Pearl is dancing and playing around the square and the shipmaster gives her a message for her mother that the doctor will be bringing Dimmesdale so she doesn't need to worry about him getting on the ship.My Questions about Chapters 21 and 22:
Why isn't Hester preparing to leave as Dimmesdale gives his speech? She must have a lot to pack for her and Pearl to escape.
Why does Chillingworth convey his plans through the shipmaster and not tell Hester directly?My Reactions towards Chapters 21 and 22:
While reading this chapter, I totally expected Dimmesdale to give his best sermon ever. He spent so much time on it, and I bet he wanted to leave the townspeople with a good thing to remember him by before he left.
Also while reading these chapters, I found that Chillingworth's cowardice really stuck out. He resorted to communicating through the shipmaster instead of communicating directly to avoid harm.Journal Entry: Chapter 23 "The Revelation" and Chapter 24 "The Conclusion" Summary of Chapter 23:
After listening to Dimmesdale's speech, the townspeople are very moved. Even Dimmesdale realized his sermon was the best he has ever written. In the procession after the speech Dimmesdale is exhausted and hardly able to walk, when he comes to the scaffold he calls Hester and Pearl to him. Dimmesdale ignores Chillingworth and mounts the scaffold with Hester and Pearl. Then he tells the crowd of his guilt by showing them his chest. They are stunned by the A that is gouged into his chest. He then asks Pearl for a kiss. When Hester asks about their future he tells her he cannot hope for much, but leave it to God. Dimmesdale then falls down. As he dies the crowd is filled with emotion.Summary of Chapter 24:
After Dimmesdale died, Chillingworth died shortly after. Pearl and Hester take the trip to Europe, so Pearl can inherit Chillingworth's estate. After becoming a little older, Pearl marries into a rich family, and becomes royalty. When Hester is about to die, she travels back to Boston and dies in her cottage. At the end of the novel, it was implied that she was buried next to Dimmsdale.Questions about Chapters 23 and 24:
Why did Chillingworth give his estate to Pearl even though she is not his child?
Why was Hester buried next to Dimmesdale? I figured that they would separate the two after death to further the punishment of their sin.Reactions Towards Chapters 23 and 24:
After reading this, I fully expected for Dimmesdale to die after his speech. If he didn't have the emotional inspiration, I doubt that he could a write a sermon as good as he did.
Also after reading this, I was flabbergasted to read that Chillingworth had given his entire estate to Pearl. I figured that he wanted revenge on Pearl for being the outcome of Hester's and Dimmesdale's sin, both of whom he hated and so dearly wanted revenge.
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