Hester has become a real boon to her community: when someone is sick, Hester is there to help; when someone is in need, Hester provides. "None so ready as she to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty [...]. None so self-devoted as Hester, when pestilence stalked through the town." Hester's reputation has changed dramatically as a result of her service to the community. She has been so selfless and giving, generous and self-sacrificing to the needs of others, that everyone has noticed, and they are a great deal less judgmental of her now that she shows up during everyone's hour of need.
Years before, as Hester retreated back into the prison from the scaffold, "It was whispered by those who peered after her that the scarlet letter threw a lurid gleam along the dark passage-way of the interior." Hester was judged so harshly before; her peers could only think of her sin whenever they saw her. The authorities even considered removing her daughter from her care because they felt she was unfit as a mother. After several years have passed, however, when Hester attends the sick, "There glimmered the embroidered letter, with comfort in its unearthly ray." She is now a source of comfort instead of a reminder of her sin.