In the story "Young Goodman Brown", what do the pink ribbons symbolize?

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rshaffer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I see the pink ribbons symbolizing the ambivalence that Goodman Brown is experiencing in continuing his journey further into the woods.  The color pink is created when you mix white (purity, innocence) with red (evil, devil).  Therefore, the pink ribbons floating down from the sky when Goodman Brown is troubled about what he is experiencing on his journey symbolizes his torment that he is experiencing in trying to resist evil. The two colors mixing together symbolizes the "mixing" if you will of the fight within Goodman Brown between thoughts of good and evil.

The pink ribbons also symbolize that good and evil are mixed and inherent in every human being as Goodman Brown realizes when his journey takes him to the Devil's altar at the end of the story.

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timbrady eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Pink is a color generally associated with innocence.  In YGB, it symbolizes the innocence of Faith who wears it at the beginning of the story as well as Brown's own innocent and immature view of his fellow townspeople.  During Brown's real or imagined trip into the woods, when he is at the Black Sabbath, Faith's pink ribbon floats to the ground, and Brown remarks that he has lost his Faith.  Of course, the are two Faiths involved here:  Brown has lost his innocent wife, and he has also lost is faith (religious and in mankind).

You know the sorry outcome of his disillusionment.

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broscover | Student

The pink Ribbons in Young Goodman Brown represent many things.

  • The first shows Faith's innocence, youth, and playfulness. The pink ribbons are suggestive of these characteristics in her.
  • It can also mean she may not be as innocent as first thought because the color pink comes from mixing the two colors red and white. The colors red and white can represent many things that could be associated with this story. This story has many religious overtones so it is easy to think what those colors could mean and the mixing of the two could possibly mean she is that mixture of both good and evil.
  • YGB gives into evil when he sees the ribbons falling in the woods, saying that his Faith (as in the person and his faith in his religion) is gone so nothing good is left and to let evil come!

These are just a few ideas that could be expanded upon when regarding the ribbons!