(Masterpieces of American Literature)

One of two plays by Parks coming from Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter, In the Blood introduces us to Hester, a woman of the street who has five children by five different fathers. Hester lives in a state of illiteracy while claiming as home for herself and her children the underside of a bridge. She is offered ineffectual help by her closest friend, Amiga Gringa, by a social worker, by a roaming medical doctor, and by an evangelical street preacher. Help is seemingly at hand when Chili, the father of her first “treasure,” Jabber, appears and offers her a chance for rescue. However, when he learns of her four other children, he quickly withdraws, never to return. Her friend’s offer of help is for Hester to pose with her in a series of pornographic opportunities. The social worker has a job readied for the mother, a job that would necessitate her children being taken over by the state. The doctor desires to remove Hester’s reproductive organs to prevent her from having additional children. Finally, the minister refuses to acknowledge any responsibility for Hester or for the child he gave her. The only letter of the alphabet that her literate son, Jabber, has taught her is “A,” a clear reference to the Hawthorne original in which Hester Prine must wear the scarlet “A.” When vandals etch the word “slut” on the walls of the bridge, Jabber refuses to read it for her. However, in the end, when the same word is used by the...

(The entire section is 453 words.)