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MonkeyNotes-The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 19: The Child At The Brook-side

Summary

As Pearl approaches them with flowers in her hair, Hester and Dimmesdale discuss how much she looks like her father. Dimmesdale confesses that he has often been afraid of discovery through her resemblance. When Pearl see the two of them together, she refuses to cross the brook and come near, despite her mother's encouragement. She points to Hester's dress and goes into a screaming fit of anger. Hester realizes Pearl is upset about the missing scarlet letter, which she has constantly worn during the child's lifetime. Dimmesdale says she must do what is necessary to calm Pearl, so Hester tells the child to bring her the letter lying on the ground. When Pearl refuses to comply, Hester retrieves it herself, pins it to her dress, and ties back her hair. Pearl then rushes to her and gives her kisses; however, she suspiciously looks at Dimmesdale occupying her rightful place beside her mother.

Pearl questions Dimmesdale's presence. When Hester says he is there because he loves both of them, Pearl asks whether he will walk hand-in-hand with them into town, revealing her distrust of him. Hester informs Pearl that in the future the three of them will live together openly.


Pearl asks if Dimmesdale will always keep his hand over his heart, but Hester scolds the child for the question. She then forces Pearl to come to her father, who gives her a kiss. Pearl breaks free of her mother's hold, runs to the brook, washes off his kiss, and remains aloof while the two adults discuss their plan of leaving Boston.

Notes

Pearl has never seen Hester without the scarlet letter and loudly refuses to accept her mother without it. In order to quiet the child, Dimmesdale suggests that Hester replace the "A" on her dress. As soon as the mother retrieves it, pins it on, and ties back her hair, her natural beauty and radiance vanish while a sadness returns to her face; but Pearl recognizes the mother that she knows again. As a result, she runs to Hester and smothers her with kisses. She does not, however, warm to Dimmesdale. When Hester holds her to him for a kiss, Pearl breaks away and runs to the brook to wash the kiss away.

Dimmesdale is still not ready to confess his sin in public. Although he soon plans to escape Boston with Hester and Pearl, he is not willing to walk into town with them, even though the precocious Pearl asks him to do it. Hester, however, promises that the three of them will soon live together openly.

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