What does the scarlet letter mean to Pearl?
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To Pearl, the scarlet letter is a part of her mother. She has never known a time when her mother has not worn the letter, and she also seems to understand that it causes her mother great distress when Pearl focuses on it. Hester recalls vivdly Pearl, as an infant, reaching out for it, as babies do, yet it is symbolic for Hester. She feels almost as if baby Pearl could understand the meaning of the letter.
Since Pearl as at the very least a mischievous child, when her mother does not answer her in regards to its meaning, Pearl seems to enjoy making up meanings for it. Pearl also happens to be intelligent beyond her years, and so her guesses for what it could stand for are quite impressive.
For instance, one of Pearl's answers is that the letter means the same reason why the minister holds his hand over his heart. Since we know why Dimmesdale gets sicker and sicker, indeed, the letter means exactly what Pearl thought it did, though certainly in a figurative sense.
Pearl sees the Scarlet Letter as a symbol of her mother. She's seen her mother wearing it since she was born, so naturally she feels that it is a part of her mother.
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