How does Chapter 21 deepen our understanding of Puritan culture in The Scarlet Letter?
To me, this chapter humanizes the Puritans at least a little bit.
In popular culture, and even in much of this book, the Puritans seem like a bunch of really dull and narrow minded people. Someone once said that Puritanism was the great fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy. This chapter sort of takes away from that idea.
In this chapter, we see the Puritans being at least a little rowdy and a little tolerant. They enjoy watching the wrestling and the quarterstaff fights and they are sad when the sword fight gets broken up. They allow sailors and Indians to hang out with them and they are even willing to talk to them some.
So this sort of humanizes the Puritans in my eyes at least.