In "The Scarlet Letter," what was the reason Hester gave for keeping Pearl?
Hester is lonely, isolated, Pearl is a treasure to her. The author describes the value of Pearl to her mother, and why, as a mother she loves her child, even though she is a reminder of her sin.
"But she named the infant "Pearl," as being of great price--purchased with all she had--her mother's only treasure! How strange, indeed! Man had marked this woman's sin by a scarlet letter, which had such potent and disastrous efficacy that no human sympathy could reach her, save it were sinful like herself. God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonoured bosom, to connect her parent for ever with the race and descent of mortals, and to be finally a blessed soul in heaven! Yet these thoughts affected Hester Prynne less with hope than apprehension." (Hawthorne, Chapter 6)
Part of Hester's intrinsic need to live with her sin is present in the baby, Pearl. Hawthorne describes the letter as given by man, the baby as given by God. Hester realizes that this baby is God's reminder of her sin and part of her work toward redemption. The fact that Pearl is a bit of a trouble-maker also lends to the theory that even though she is exquisite, she needs her mother's help and guidance to direct her through her life. Hester will gain some redemption in nuturing Pearl.