How does Melinda react to The Scarlet Letter, especially the refrence to Hester's "A?"   What do you think this reveals about Melinda?  

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

While frustrated by her English teacher's search for symbolism, Melinda makes an almost immediate identification with Hawthorne's work.  She recognizes that what Hester endures is similar to her own situation.  Social ostracizing, the weight of external reality, and the inability of voice to be heard are all experiences that Hester endures and Melinda understands in her own predicament.  Her reaction to Hester's wearing the letter "A" and her own situation shows an immediate relationship formed:  "i wonder if Hester tried to say no. She's kind of quiet. We would get along... wearing that A, me an S maybe, for silent, for stupid, for scared, for silly, for shame."  

This identification reveals some unique elements about Melinda.  Initially, Melinda recognizes that she has to "speak."  She understands the pain in being silent.  In articulating the social condition of silence being imposed on her, Melinda begins the process of learning to "speak."  Additionally, Melinda is seeking solidarity with others.  In trying to forge connection with a literary character, Melinda is emerging to the understanding that trauma necessitates a communitarian reaction and solidarity with others.  This is significant as it helps her to find her voice.

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laurto's profile pic

laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Hester and Melinda are both social outcasts. They both remain silent. The people around them look down at them and do not like them at all. They both are disliked for "doing something wrong" but in different (obviously) scenarios. 

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