Why is Father Hooper wearing a veil in The Minister's Black Veil?

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The truth is, the reader never truly finds out why Father Hooper is wearing the veil. It appears quite suddenly, and the members of his church are most definitely put off by its addition to his clothing: 

"I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was behind that piece of crape," said the sexton.

"I don't like it," muttered an old woman, as she hobbled into the meeting-house. "He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face."

"Our parson has gone mad!" cried Goodman Gray, following him across the threshold.

Hawthorne sets up this same curiosity in the reader. Most characters refuse to ask him why he's wearing the veil; rumors abound about what is under the veil and why he is wearing it. Finally, his fiance does ask why he is wearing it:

"Elizabeth, I will," said he, "so far as my vow may suffer me. Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol, and I am bound to wear it ever, both in light and darkness, in solitude and before the gaze of multitudes,...

(The entire section contains 542 words.)

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