For some time, Hester has been fruitlessly trying to intercept the minister while on one of his walks on the seashore or when he is making his way through the woods. As Hester walks in the company of Pearl through the woods, some flickering rays of sunshine penetrate the clouds above. Pearl believes the sun is escaping Hester due to the A on her chest. On the contrary, Pearl, who bears no letter, can run and catch a patch of light. As Hester comes closer, the light disappears.
Pearl then inquires to know more about the Black Man whom she has heard about in stories and whether the letter represents his mark. Hester confesses that the letter is indeed his mark.
In the heart of the forest, Pearl and Hester decide to take a rest. Dimmesdale approaches while holding his chest and Pearl immediately questions whether he is hiding the Black Man’s mark with his hand.
Analysis of the Chapter 16
The stage is now set for the impending confession. The gloomy forest atmosphere symbolizes Hester’s mental state. Moreover, the narrow path suggests a “moral wilderness” she has been compelled to follow over the last seven years. The author also creates a correlation between the black man and the letter. Finally, the letter is also connected with the burden in Dimmesdale’s heart.
Hawthorne dedicates most of this chapter in correlating nature with Hester’s daughter. Pearl was born from an act of passion and seemed to communicate with nature with an understanding of the beauty of the wilderness. She notices the love given to her by sunshine but disappears for her mother.
Hester hopes that her daughter would never have to bear the symbol of a transgression. Pearl has never experienced sorrow that fills her with sympathy and compassion, thus humanizing her like her mother.