In Chapter 8 we see that Hester has gone to Governor Bellingham's house. She has heard a rumor in the town that people of Boston are considering taking Pearl away from her. During the visit, Pearl causes trouble by incorrectly answering questions from the Governor. Afraid that this will convince them to take her child, Hester entreats Dimmesdale to help them. For a brief moment, the wild child, Pearl, tenderly lays her on Dimmesdale’s cheek. Why would Hawthorne include this uncharacteristic action?
Throughout the book, Hawthorne believes that people are connected. Pearl’s gesture shows that she intuitively realizes that the reverend is her father. We see this again later when they family is standing on the scaffold and Pearl asks if Dimmesdale will stand on the scaffold with them during the daylight.