In "The Minister's Black Veil", what happens when Reverend Clark tries to remove the veil?

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Minister's Black Veil" opens with an unsettling change in the lives of the residents of the village of Milford; one of their religious leaders, Parson Hooper, has suddenly taken to wearing a black veil that covers half of his face. The veil seems, in style and manner, to be something one would wear while in mourning, but Hooper refuses to explain exactly why, or for whom, he is wearing it. This leads the parishioners to speculate on his behalf, thinking that it must be for some sin he has committed and intends to spend his life in atonement for.

At the end of the story, as Hooper is dying, he is attended to by his former fiancee, and another priest, Reverend Clark. Clark also assumes that Hooper is wearing the veil because he has some sin to atone for. However, Hooper has led an exemplary life, and Clark wants Hooper to die in such a way that the memory of all his goodness will not be tarnished by the "shadow" that the veil metaphorically casts over them.

In a surprising show of strength and energy, Hooper clasps his hands over the veil as Clark attempts to take it off, saying that he will never remove it while he is alive.

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The Minister's Black Veil

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