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In The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne crafts chapter titles that reveal an...

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csoshs98 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:04 AM via web

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In The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne crafts chapter titles that reveal an important concept or theme.  In "Hester At Her Needle," what is the important concept or theme in this chapter? 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 16, 2013 at 2:40 PM (Answer #1)

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In chapter 5 of The Scarlet Letter, titled "Hester At Her Needle", Hester is near the end of her sentence, and has decided to stay living in the settlement despite of the trials that her everyday life will bring.

Hester had to make a living. She never intends to become wealthy by it, but she does want to provide for Pearl. The way that she makes her living is by sewing garments that are used in celebrations, for funerals, or for babies. Hester becomes quite well-known as a result of her needle work, partly because of her true talent, and partly from the morbid curiosity that arises from her notoriety.

What is truly important about this chapter is that Hester is suddenly known for something positive. Although she continues to be the pariah of society it is inevitable to deny her amazing ability.

Regardless, this chapter shows the cruelty of the sanctimonious villagers. They seared the scarlet letter not only in Hester's everyday actions, but deep within her heart. Although later on it says that "the scarlet letter had not done its office", that will not happen but until all the wrath of the villagers has fallen at full force upon Hester. It is almost seven years before the popular opinion changes and Hester begins to gain some love back. This is when her charity work turns her A of adultery into the A of "ability".

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