In "The Scarlet Letter", why is Hester worried about Pearl?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pearl's behavior is very puzzling to Hester. Hawthorne describes her as an "eld-child". Early in the novel, the towns people want to take Pearl away from Hester. Since she won't name the father, some assume Pearl's father is the devil. When Hester goes to Gov. Bellingham's to demand she be allowed to keep Pearl, Pearl is asked where she comes from. Instead of saying "From God", Pearl replies that she was plucked from the rosebush in front of the prison door. This shocking answer almost loses her custody of her daughter. It is only when Dimmesdale steps in and defends her that Hester is allowed to keep Pearl. Pearl keeps demanding what the letter "A" means and why the minister keeps his hand over his heart. When Hester removes the scarlet letter in the forest, Pearl has a temper tantrum until Hester puts the letter back on. All of this suggests that Pearl is bothered by the fact that her mother is treated differently than others and that she, too, is some kind of outcast. She also seems to know intuitively that Dimmesdale is her father but he will not acknowledge this. Pearl does not seem to become a "normal" girl until Dimmesdale acknowledges her at the end of the novel. Ironically, the outcome of Pearl's life seems the happiest in the end.

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The Scarlet Letter

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