During Hester's interview with the Reverend Wilson at the Governor's Hall in Chapter VIII of The Scarlet Letter, the young woman entreats the authorities to allow her to keep her child, the fruit of her passion. Governor Bellingham, however, feels that Hester cannot teach the child when she has "stumbled and fallen amid the pitfalls of this world." But Hester contends that she can teach Peal what she has learned from being made to wear the scarlet letter.
"Woman, it is thy badge of shame!" replied the stern magistrate. "It is because of the stain which that letter indicates that we would transfer thy child to other hands."
"Neverthess," said the mother, calmly,..."this badge hath taught me,--it daily teaches me,--it is teaching me at this moment,--lessons wherof my child may be the wiser and better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself."
Hester argues that God has given her this child "in requital of things" which have been taken from her:
She is my happiness!--she is my tortue, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a millionfold the power of retribution for my sin?,,,,
When she entreats the Reverend Dimmesdale to speak on her behalf, the minister argues that Hester is the only one who can understand the child, and the child is an ever-present reminder "at every moment, of her fall"; if Hester can teach Pearl and bring the child to heaven, then the child will bring its parents there, as well, he contends.
As Hester leaves the mansion with Pearl, Mistress Hibbins invites Hester to join her and others in the forest with the Black Man. To this invitation, Hester replies that she must excuse herself, for she must keep watch over little Pearl:
"I must tarry at home...Had they taken her from me, I would willingly have gone with thee into the forest, and signed my name in the Black Man's book too, and that with mine own blood!"
Hester feels that little Pearl keeps her from "Satan's snare" as she must be the child's mother, tender and attentive.