Chapters 20-22 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What is Hester’s plan for Dimmesdale, Pearl, and herself?

2. What is Dimmesdale tempted to do as he returns to his room? Why?

3. What decision does he make as he reaches his lodging?

4. What does the Puritan celebration tell about their values?

5. How has Chillingworth interfered with Hester’s plan?

6. What does the procession show about Puritan values?

7. What is the minister’s mental state as he walks to the meeting-house? What effect does he have upon Hester?

8. Where is Hester standing during Dimmesdale’s sermon?

9. Why does Hester become the center of the crowd’s attention? What irony does the narrator see in the scene?

10. What is Pearl doing during the sermon?

1. Hester will arrange passage to England for the three of them with a ship’s captain who is leaving in four days.

2. As the minister encounters people on his way he is tempted to suggest obscene religious practices to a deacon, heretical comments about doctrines to a pious woman, and impure ideas to a young maiden. His weakened mind is not accustomed to thinking outside the basic Puritan guidelines.

3. Since he is scheduled to deliver an important sermon one day before the escape to England, Dimmesdale is moved to write a new and more powerful sermon. The encounter with Hibbins causes him to pull back from the wild thoughts he has been experiencing and to reconsider Hester’s plan for them.

4. The Puritans take the transfer of political power very seriously, intertwined as it is with religious power. Remnants of English attitudes remain with them, but celebration are restricted to only modest changes from their somber routines. The narrator comments that even as they celebrated, the Puritans looked like people undergoing great troubles.

5. Somehow Chillingworth has found out about the plan and has booked passage to England on the same ship.

6. The solemnity accorded the procession is the same the Puritans gave to most activities. The order in which the groups marched showed their relative importance to the community: the military first, the civil authorities next, and the religious, last and most important.

7. The minister is walking with new-found energy, seemingly oblivious to the crowd and the moment. Hester is dismayed at the remoteness of his look and fears her plan has little hope of being fulfilled.

8. By coincidence, Hester, unable to get into the packed meeting-house, stands next to the scaffold.

9. Newcomers to the village had heard of but had not seen the woman with the scarlet letter. Now aware of her, they cause others to stare at Hester. While she and her letter are the center of one crowd, Dimmesdale, with the burden on his chest, ironically is the center of another group.

10. Pearl, in typical fashion, is skipping about, investigating Indians and sailors. One, the sea captain, gives her a gold chain and a message about Chillingworth for her mother.

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