In The Scarlet Letter, what clues does Hawthorne provide as the identity of Pearl's father?

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jennifer-taubenheim eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hester left Amsterdam and went to New England to start a new life. She waited for her husband for a long time until she assumed that he was dead. She is then found to be pregnant. She is forced to wear the A for "adulterer" and sit in front of the whole village for 3 hours a day. Reverend Dimmesdale saves her from the gallows be stating that her husband is assumed to be dead.

Then a doctor named Roger Chillingworth comes to visit Hester in her jail cell. We learn that he is actually her husband, but that he will keep that a secret. When he asks to know the identity of Pearl's father, she will not tell him.

After she gets out, the townspeople decide that Pearl should not be allowed to stay with her mother because they are afraid that Pearl will follow in her mother's footsteps. Hester receives word that the magistrate wants to take Pearl away from her. When she arrives at the governor's house, Dimmesdale is there. After he persuades the governors to allow Pearl to stay with her mother, he gives Pearl a kiss on the forehead. This kiss, in addition to his continuing intervention on their behalf, hint at him being Pearl's father.

When Hester and Pearl return from the death bed of governor Winthrop, they join Dimmesdale who is standing on the town's scaffold. Pearl asks him twice, "Wilt thou stand here with mother and me, to-morrow noontide?" She knows that he is her father and she wants him to confess his sin so that they may live peacefully.

On a walk in the woods, Hester and Dimmesdale talk about leaving for England. Dimmesdale again gives a kiss to Pearl, who runs to the brook to wash it off. She is not willing now to accept him.

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The Scarlet Letter

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