As I read The Scarlet Letter I often wondered how Hester's life would have been different without Pearl. If at some point Hester had lost Pearl, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or an accident after she was born, would Hester have any reason to continue to live? She would still have been shunned and shamed for her sin and the only good thing that came of it all was her daughter. It seems that Hester's entire existence revolved only around Pearl, so would she have wanted to continue living without her?
Hawthorne himself says, "Her face...was like a mask; or rather, like the frozen calmness of a dead woman's features; owing this dreary resemblance to the fact that Hester was actually dead, in respect to any claim of sympathy, and had departed our of the world with which she still seemed to mingle."