Pearl is wrathful when other children approach her, going so far as to throw stones and scream at them. How does she react to toys?Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A child born of passion and unbound nature, little Pearl has such an imagination that she does not need, nor probably want, ordinary toys:

The spell of life went forth from her ever creative spirit, and communicated itself to a thousand objects, as a torch kindles a flame wherever it may be applied.

Thus, Pearl of "The Scarlet Letter" employs the "unlikeliest materials--a stick, a bunch of rags, a flower--" and pretends that they are whatever she wishes them to be.  Having been conceived in nature, Pearl is a child of nature and her mother and father's passion.  She plays with the pine trees and transforms the "aged, black, and solemn" trees into Puritans, the breezes into voices, the weeds of the garden as children; Pearl needs no playmates when she has the children of Nature.  Yet, Hawthorne writes, "She never created a friend" as so often children do in their imaginations.

That Pearl is a capricious elf of a child is demonstrated in later chapters, as well.  For, when Hester takes Pearl into the forest where she meets the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl stands on the opposite bank of a stream, refusing to come to the other side despite her mother's exhoratations.  She refuses to come and will not be placated until Hester replaces the scarlet letter,  which she has cast aside, onto her dress.

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The Scarlet Letter

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