What talent did Hester use to support herself and Pearl?
Hester was an amazing seamstress and a master at needlework. Ironically, the people who condemned her for her actions went to her for fancy children's clothes, embroidered laces and gloves, and other lavish decorations for their clothing when they should have been dressing more humbly according to the Puritan religious beliefs to honor God. The only garments she is not allowed to sew for the residents are wedding items, supposedly not to contaminate the union before it begins with her sinful hands on the cloth of the dress the bride would wear to begin her married life.
It is in Chapter 5 where her talent is discussed. Her skill fills a void in the community while it also allows Hester to perform a work of charity for individual residents. She does not charge much for her work, and in some cases she charges nothing at all. It does, however, help her to support her daughter and keeps the two of them from depending on the kindness of others for their food and other needed items to survive.