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Scarlet Letter Chapter 3 Summary


While Hester is standing on the scaffold, she spots someone she recognizes in the crowd. This stranger who appears at the outskirts of the crowd while Hester stands on the scaffold is slightly deformed because his left shoulder rises higher than his right. He gestures to Hester telling her not to reveal his identity. He pretends that he does not know Hester and has the other people in the crowd describe to him who she is and what she has done to be up on the scaffold. The stranger explains his civilized and savaged costume to the townsman by saying that he was taken captive by indians. Hester refuses to publicly identify the identity of the child's father and the judges were lenient with her because she is probably a widow. The penalty for adultery in the Massachusetts colony is death, however Hester is only sentenced to standing on the scaffold for three hours, but she must broadcast the Scarlet Letter for the rest of her life. The stranger is disturbed by this sentence because he believed the father should be equally punished. The town fathers urge Hester to reveal the identity of the child's father because it is only right for him to be punished as well, but Hester still refuses. Reverend Wilson delivers a message and constantly brings up Hester's letter and the reasons behind it. Pearl, Hester's daughter begins to yell violently at the end of the sermon and Hester is escorted back into the prison.