When the Reverend Mr. Hooper first appears with the black veil upon his face, the congregation is "wonder-struck."
Some wonder if he is not really Mr. Hooper, but another minister. Others express their dislike for the veil, saying that it gives them negative feelings. "I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was behind that piece of crepe," says the sexton as the minister passes. An older woman mutters that the minister has transformed himself into "something awful, only by hiding his face." Goodman Gray exclaims, "Our parson has gone mad!"
Much like Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter, a novel written by the same author, there is in the Reverend Mr. Hooper, "a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in others' hearts." The variety of these hidden sins are evinced by the various reactions of the members of the congregation throughout the story. Certainly, these Puritans, for which sin is a constant topic of conversation, become uncomfortable and uncertain by the appearance of the veil on Mr. Hooper. For, they begin to wonder what guilt he may be hiding, or, perhaps what he has seen or what he does see in them presently that he wishes not to reveal.