What's going on in the rest of the book?
The Scarlet Letter Chapter 3 Summary
- Standing on this public stage, Hester looks out and notices an American Indian and a white dude (who is dressed partly in American Indian traditional attire) standing on the outskirts of the crowd.
- She recognizes the white man by the slight deformity in his shoulders and squeezes her baby again until it cries.
- But the man just looks at her and puts a finger to his lips.
- Helpfully for us, he questions a nearby citizen of the town about what's going on.
- The woman is Hester Prynne. She's married to an Englishman who's been missing for two years.
- Wait, but what about the kid?
- That's just it. The 3-month-old baby makes it pretty clear that Hester's been up to something she shouldn't have.
- The stranger asks who the father is, but nobody knows—Hester's not telling.
- Meanwhile, Hester is up on the public stage thinking that she's glad she's encountered the stranger this way, with a crowed of people between her and him.
- Everyone wants Hester to reveal the name of her partner in crime.
- Her pastor, Reverend Dimmesdale, is particularly insistent. He wants her to 'fess up, even if the man she names has to step down from a high position of authority to join her on the stage.
- This plea is so moving that even Hester's baby lifts its arms out to him, but she keeps her mouth shut.
- Then, the townspeople engage in a crazy sort of mass hallucination, where the scarlet letter takes on a life of its own and they begin to see its scarlet glow as coming from the very fires of hell itself.
- Who said the Puritans were boring?