Pearl sees all, tells all

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"'Truly do I!' answered Pearl, looking brightly into her mother's face.  'It is for the same reason that the minister keeps his hand over his heart (161)!'"

Throughout the story it has been amazing how much Pearl sees and how little she sees at the same time.  Hawthorne continues to point out Pearl's interest in things she recognizes but does not understand.  "Pearl's inevitable tendency to hover about the enigma of the scarlet letter seemed an innate quality of her being (163)."  The reader continues to see that Pearl understands, on some level, what the letter on her mother's bosom means, but that she does not know in full.
We see how close she arrives when we mother lies to her for the first time: "'And as for the scarlet letter, I wear it for the sake of its gold-thread (163)!'"  
Pearl is our window to the truth, whether Hawthorne intends this or not.  She states the connections that should have been made by the time she states them.  If one had not noticed that the Reverend held his hand over his chest earlier in the story, it could not be ignored now.  She asks Hester all those questions that we as readers have to wonder.  She also gives us details that help us answer her questions, even though she has not connected all the dots.


In addition to this, something I found interesting, Hawthorne's description of Pearl coming back after Hester and Dimmesdale have talked.  This particular line caught my attention upon both readings: "A wolf , it is said, - but here the tale has surely lapsed into the improbable, - came up, and smelt of Pearl's robe, and offered his savage head to be patted by her hand (184-185)."  This is followed by a description of Pearl as a dryad, but that quote amazes me.  Why on earth did Hawthorne feel the need to include this improbably account of Pearl returning to her mother?  I cannot begin to describe the images this line creates, as it is likely different for everyone, but it seems to make Pearl even more dream-like than she already is!

1 Comments

Jennifer Prex said:

It was interesting how Pearl kept making the connection between the scarlet letter her mother wore and the minister's tendency to put his hand over her heart. It did seem she knew everything and nothing at the same time. She knew everything in the sense that she made that connection, but she knew nothing because she could quite reach the answer of how they were connected--why it was significant.

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