After the Reverend Mr. Hooper dons the black veil and refuses to remove it even for his fiancee, he "walks in the shadows of love and sympathy" among the community,
groping darkly within his own soul, or gazing through a medium that saddened the whole world.
As he passes by the members of his community, he smiles sadly, for he understands that the people fear him, wondering if he be able to know their secret sins. Inadvertently, "he becomes a man of awful power over souls that were in agony for sin." Because of their personal apprehensions, Reverend Hooper's role in the community alters, enabling him "to sympathize with all dark affections." For, dying sinners ask for him in the moments before they breathe their last breaths, and strangers come long distances to view his covered face.
Yet, throughout a long life, the minister remains "kind and loving," an example of a true Christian. It is, instead the members of the community who change; for in their guilt, their secret sins, they shun the minister or hide their faces from him lest behind that dark veil he perceive the secret sins that lie within their souls.