The Scarlet Letter. Chapters 5-6 Alex Foust & Rachel Rayburn. Chapter 5 Summary .
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Hester is released from prison. Although she is free to leave Boston, she chooses not to do so. She chooses to live in an abandoned cabin on a patch of infertile land at the edge of town, over looking trees. Hester remains isolated from everyone. They look at her as an example of a fallen woman, a cautionary tale for everyone to see and stay away from. Hester remains as an outcast, she can support herself because she can sell clothing. Her skills make her work fit to be worn by the governor despite its shameful source. Although the beautiful detail of her work goes against Puritan codes of fashion, it is in demand for burial shrouds, christening gowns, and officials’ robes. In fact, through her work, Hester touches all the major events of life except for marriage—it is feels its inappropriate for brides to wear the product of hers. Despite her success, Hester feels lonely and is constantly aware of her alienation. As shame burns inside of her, she searches for companionship or sympathy, but to no luck. She devotes part of her time to charity work, but even this is more punishment than comfort: those she helps frequently insult her, and making garments for the poor out of rough cloth insults her true skills.
Hester’s one thing that keeps her going in life is her daughter, Pearl, who is talked about in this chapter a lot. She is named that because she’s a beautiful flower growing out of sinful soil. Pearl has inherited all of Hester’s moodiness, passion, and defiance, and she constantly makes mischief. Pearl is very hard to discipline. Hester loves but worries about her child. Pearl is treated as an imp of evil and product of sin, they believe she had no right among other infants. Pearl herself is aware of her difference from others, and when Hester tries to teach her about God, Pearl says, “I have no Heavenly Father!” Pearl feels everything that her mom gets from the townspeople because she is always with her mother. Kids find Hester and her child odd so they treat both of them very bad. Because Pearl knows she's very alone in this world she creates imaginary friends and acts out things with them. Pearl is fascinated by the scarlet letter and at times seems to intentionally torture her mother by playing with it. Once, when Pearl is pelting the letter with wildflowers, Hester exclaims in frustration, “Child, what art thou?” Pearl turns the question back on her mother, insisting that Hester tell her of her origins. Surprised at the impudence of a child so young (Pearl is about three at the time), Hester wonders if Pearl might not be the demon-child that many of the townspeople believe her to be.