How and what does Pearl play with? What does this say about her awareness and maturity?Any answers would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance..

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 6, Pearl is three years old.  It is in this chapter that the details of who she is and how she plays are outlined.  In the same way that her mother is shunned socially, little Pearl is shunned.  She does not grow up playing with other children her age.  In the absence of human playmates, therefore, Pearl creates playmates out of the "unlikliest materials--a stick, a bunch of rags, a flower."  It is further noted that in her childish voice, she seems to make pretend play of them warring and fighting with one another.  Her mother notes Pearl's "constant recognition of an adverse world."

This shows a couple of things about Pearl's awareness and maturity.  Though imaginative (pretend) play is not unheard of at the age of 3, it not usually so advanced, especially without contact or connection with older children.  Pearl's actions immediately show her innate intelligence.  Further, it shows how keenly aware she is, of her mother's (and her own) social positions.  At three years old such actions could be looked at and scoffed as silly or meaningless.  You will see though, that as Pearl grows older, she does in fact possess almost a 6th sense about the evil which surrounds her and the ways that she is different from others.  Her behavior as a three-year-old is only the beginning of the wisdom Pearl will soon display.

eclagda | Student

Pearl's play activities are indicative of her mature awareness of self  and others around her. Towards the children of the society that has scorned her, she is wild, wrathful, and violent, going so far as to pelt them with stones. Similarly, she is violent and destructive towards childish playthings, seemingly rejecting the happy simplicity of human childhood in her awareness of the almost otherworldly role she plays in her mother's life. Finally, as symbol of her mother's adultery, she enages in ironic play, happily throwing flowers at the scarlet letter, aware of and purposely exacerbating her mother's shame.  This behavior foreshadows her pointed questioning of people as she ages -- her penetrating judgment.

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The Scarlet Letter

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