What are the seven stops on Young Goodman Brown's journey and the significance of each of them?

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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I'm not certain that there are seven stops on Young Goodman Brown's journey. Perhaps it's a matter of how you read the story. I can only see five stops right now, and two of those stops seem minor and come very early in the story:

1. At the threshold: In the first paragraph, Young Goodman Brown pauses and sticks his head back in through the doorway to give his wife a quick kiss.

2. Again, at the threshold: In the sixth paragraph, about to move out of sight of his house, Young Goodman Brown looks back toward his home and wife.

These first two stops seems to signal some sort of hesitation or uncertainly on his part. Perhaps he realizes that he is risking his comfortable life (including wife and house) in order to do whatever he's agreed to do in the forest.

3. In the woods: Young Goodman Brown tells the devil that he's done what he said he would ("Friend... having kept covenant...") and now plans on heading back home. Of couse, he doesn't. This conversation with the devil makes up the heart of the story.

4. Again, in the woods: Young Goodman Brown suddenly stops ("sat himself down on the stump of a tree, and refused to go any further") and tells the devil that he's seen enough and will not continue along the path. Of couser, he does.

These two stops in his journey seem to clearly signal his intention to bring an end to the night's discovery and his failure to fulfil that intention.

5. At the black mass: Deep in the woods, Young Goodman Brown stops as he takes in the details of the religous ceremony that is taking place.

At this point, he seems overwhelmed (like the story's reader) by the details of the ceremony.

Again, there may indeed be seven stops, but I only see five.

 

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