What is the significance of Pearl's reflection in the brook in chapter 19 of "The Scarlet Letter"? Nathaniel continuously refers to the reflection of Pearl in the brook. It is as if the brook is a mirror to everything Pearl is doing, but I don't understand why it is important or significant.

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In this particular scene, the brook acts as a natural barrier between Hester and her daughter. Hester's made the decision to leave New England with Dimmesdale, and naturally she wants Pearl to come with her. But Pearl initially refuses to go as Hester is not wearing the scarlet letter. Throughout the whole of her short life, Pearl's associated the scarlet letter with her mother. Without that outward symbol of her sins, Hester appears strange to her all of a sudden.

Pearl's reflection in the brook is itself a reflection of her relative purity and innocence, which further separates mother and daughter. It's also a symbol of how difficult it will be for Hester to move on with her life and start over. Simply removing the scarlet letter won't be enough in itself to put it out of her mind forever, especially if the pure and innocent Pearl's always there to act as a constant reminder of her former life.

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Rather than reflecting what Pearl is doing, it instead reflects what Pearl "is." The reflection shows Pearl bathed in sunlight, surrounded by flowers and foliage, like an ideal picture of innocence.

In this reflection, Hester realizes that Pearl is indeed innocent and thus separated from her mother. Though she is the product of her mother's sin, she does not and cannot share in its consequences. That is something that her parents must bear themselves. Through this realization, Hester feels estranged from Pearl. Pearl's life will go on, beyond the confines of the punishment in Boston. She will go through life untainted by the scandal, which her mother alone must bear.

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