What happens in Chapter 21 of The Scarlet Letter? 

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 21, we see Hester and Pearl attending a celebration to welcome new town officials into office.  The streets are crowded with people who have come out for the parade and party.  Hester is feeling anxious because she knows that in a few hours she will be boarding a ship to England where she can start a new life and not be known as a woman who once sinned.  As she is watching the festivities, Hester sees Chillingsworth talking to the ship's captain.  At this point, she realizes that Chillingsworth has found out her plan and is going with her.  Her dreams are dashed, and she is frantic to find a way to escape without Chillingsworth following her.  During the chapter when Pearl asks about Dimmesdale, Hester tells her not to greet him in public.  Once again, Hester can't rely on Dimmesdale to help her in this situation.

It is a significant chapter because once again Hester can't escape from her sin.  She is forever caught by her past and the obsession of Chillingworth's.  She questions if she will never have the chance to be happy with Dimmesdale.   

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The Scarlet Letter

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