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Young Goodman Brown

Young Goodman Brown

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Pink Ribbons

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

For just a moment, forget all the wonderfully complex things you know about analyzing literature and ask yourself: what things does the color pink call to mind? For us here at Shmoop, some of those things are candy, baby girls, and Barbie dolls.

Sorry if we made ourselves look ridiculous. We're just trying to do our job.

The point is, even for Puritans, pink is associated with innocence and girlishness. Faith isn't trying to make a big statement here; she just wants to look pretty, treat herself to a little something, and maybe stand out from all those Puritan grays and browns.

And, kind of depressingly, they do. For young Goodman Brown, these ribbons end up representing the difference between appearance and reality: Faith may look childlike and innocent, but she's really fallen from grace.

So we get another level of symbolism here: in the story, her pink ribbons represent the difference between the two: here comes Faith, "with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting with such joy" at the sight of her husband (71). And here comes young Goodman Brown, the unofficial Debbie Downer of Salem village. Talk about a marriage of opposites.

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