Study Guide

The Scarlet Letter Chapter 19

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter 19

The Child at the Brook-Side

  • Pearl walks up, and her parents talk about how she (1) looks like both of them, (2) also looks like a fairy, and (3) is the "visible tie" that binds them together.
  • Oh, but Dimmesdale should , chill because Pearl doesn't like emotion.
  • Come to think of it, children often don't like Dimmesdale—but Hester promises that this one will.
  • As Pearl stands on the other side of the brook, looking at them, Hester suddenly feels separated from her daughter.
  • Um, maybe because she's standing on the other side of the brook?
  • Anyway, the narrator has something to say about this: it's Hester's fault, because she admitted another person to the intimate circle that had always been made up of only mother and child.
  • Pearl feels lost, looking at the two of them.
  • Dimmesdale is getting a little freaked out, too, so he tells Pearl to hurry up.
  • And then Pearl flips out a bit, throwing a cute little temper tantrum.
  • For some reason, Hester thinks the solution is to tell Pearl to bring her the scarlet letter, which is lying on the ground nearby.
  • Get it yourself, says Pearl.
  • Actually, says Hester, that's a good idea; she'd better keep wearing it until they leave the village.
  • Symbol back on and hair back in her cap, she's the same old sinning Hester, and Pearl finally comes over and kisses her—and kisses the letter.
  • "Ooh, burn," Hester essentially says.
  • Despite all this heavily symbolic foreshadowing, Pearl asks if Dimmesdale will hold their hands as they walk back to the village.
  • We're not surprised when he refuses, but she is—and when he bends down to kiss her, she runs to the brook to wash it off.
  • Ouch.

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