I dont understand the background of the story. Is there any way to make the background seem easier?Background description needed. Not understanding what I am reading.  

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athom73 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story opens in 17th century Puritan Boston with a beautiful woman dressed in a sumptuous dress being led to a pillary for punishment for comitting adultery.  The proof is in her arms, her 3 month old daughter.  She must stand on the pillory for several hours to be taunted by the Puritan community. She is also sentenced to wear a red letter A on the front of her dress for the rest of her life to remind her and others of her sin. Hester Prynne arrived in Boston 7 years earlier.  Her husband was supposed to have followed but never did, which is why Hester was not put to death for the crime of adultery.  She may have only been guilty of fornication.  While she is standing on the pillary, she is asked to name the father of her child, but she refuses.  Also while on the pillary, she sees in the crowd her long, lost husband, who we find had been held for ransom by some Indians.  I think I've covered the basics of the first few chapters of the novel.  Hope I've helped.

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The Scarlet Letter

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