close-up portrait of a figure dressed in black wearing a black veil

The Minister's Black Veil

by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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What is different about the parson in "The Minister's Black Veil"?

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Nothing, except that, one Sunday, without warning or explanation, he walks out of his front door wearing a black veil; the veil is made of two layers of crape material that cover his eyes, nose, and the top of his mouth.  A few people cannot even believe that it is...

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Nothing, except that, one Sunday, without warning or explanation, he walks out of his front door wearing a black veil; the veil is made of two layers of crape material that cover his eyes, nose, and the top of his mouth.  A few people cannot even believe that it is their parson, Mr. Hooper, at first.  One old woman says that "'He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face.'"  Others, still, fear that he has "'gone mad.'"

However, even the sermon he delivers on this first day "was marked by the same characteristics of style and manner as the general series of his pulpit oratory."  In short, there is nothing different about Mr. Hooper except the fact that he is wearing this veil.  He is the same "mild" preacher that he always was, the same kind man, but because he now wears the black veil, everything that he does is perceived differently from the way it used to be.  "In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable in outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving, though unloved, and dimly feared; a man apart from men [...]."

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