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The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter Chapter 6 Summary
Pearl 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?
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