What evidence hints at or suggests Mr. Hooper's reason for wearing the black veil? What effect does the ambiguity or uncertainty surrounding the veil add to the overall meaning of the story?

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mperez-mugg21 | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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While there is some implication within the story that Mr. Hooper's decision to start wearing the black veil had something to do with the death of a female member of his congregation, we never learn for sure exactly why Mr. Hooper chose to wear it. Ultimately, this uncertainty helps to emphasize one of the story's primary themes: that human beings are inescapably alone and isolated from one another. On the day that Mr. Hooper starts wearing the veil, he presides over a funeral for a young a female member of his congregation. When Mr. Hooper leans over to view the body, he accidentally lets his veil slip and comes face to face with the deceased. Later on, several members of the congregation claim that they saw the spirits of the woman and the pastor walking hand in hand during the funeral procession. Together these two incidents imply some kind of significant connection between Mr. Hooper and the young lady. This possibility also feeds into the suggestion, voiced by many throughout the story, that Mr. Hooper wears the veil as a result of some secret sin or indiscretion. While it is repeatedly suggested that there is some connection between the pastor and the young lady, these suspicions are never confirmed and Mr. Hooper's choice remains a mystery. This mystery makes it hard for the reader to fully understand Mr. Hooper's thoughts and actions or to truly identify with him. This inscrutability emphasizes the loneliness and solitude of the pastor and, by extension, drives home the point that we can never truly know and understand one another.

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