When Governor Bellingham meets Pearl at his home, he initially thinks that she is a charming girl, but his attitude changes when he realizes who she is. As a strict Puritan, Bellingham condemns Hester’s immorality and labels Pearl negatively as the product of her mother’s sin. At the time of this visit, the governor has not yet decided whether he supports removing Pearl from her mother’s custody, as others are proposing. To his questions about her fitness, Hester responds that because of what her public shame has taught her, she will teach her daughter to avoid such pitfalls.
The governor then asks another man, Wilson, to quiz Pearl, which will help him decide if she is being raised properly. Unfortunately for Hester, the flustered child is unable to respond correctly to the questions about her religious education. Worse yet, she impudently declares herself a flower plucked from a rosebush. Alarmed, Bellingham now supports removing her from Hester.
The mother asks Dimmesdale to speak up for her. She knows that, despite keeping his role secret, he believes Hester is a good mother. Arguing that it was God who chose to give Pearl to Hester, the minister succeeds in convincing the governor to leave the two together.