The Scarlet Letter
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- Hester names her daughter Pearl, a reference to Jesus' proverb describing heaven as a "pearl of great price"; when a merchant came upon a pearl, he sold all he had to buy it.
- Just like Hester gave up her "treasure"—her reputation as a chaste woman—for her daughter.
- Hester is pretty worried that Pearl will be marked by sin in some way, but her daughter seems fine.
- Actually, more than fine: she's pretty and charming and basically would be the most popular girl at school if she weren't an outcast like her mom.
- And one other thing: Pearl is passionate. She will not obey rules.
- You can imagine that passionate Pearl doesn't always respond kindly to Puritan children's insults.
- Because she's grown up as an outcast, even her imaginary friends are adversaries. That's intense.
- The first object Pearl notices as she grows up is Hester's "A."
- Whenever Pearl looks at the letter, Hester imagines her features assuming devilish qualities.
- One particularly memorable summer's day, Pearl invents the fun game of throwing flowers at the scarlet letter.
- Hester feels like each flower is wounding her, so she cries out and asks Pearl what she is.
- Hester's "little Pearl," of course.
- For some reason, that answer doesn't satisfy mom, so she keeps asking who (or what) she is, and what sent her.
- Finally, Pearl says, "You guess!" Hester replies, "Thy Heavenly Father sent thee!" but she hesitates.
- Pearl catches the hesitation.
- Oh, and did we mention that some of the townspeople insist that Pearl is the offspring of demons?