Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Scarlett Letter

WARNING, these are semi-unpolished thoughts, and if you love this book I would ask that you explain why if you feel led to make a comment.

Hawthorn created two of the most benightedly annoying people in the characters of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Or possibly two of the most sadly confused and blinded people as to the God both are supposedly serving. They both sin, and one is discovered and one not. The whole story is built around this theme, one is in the open, accused and confessed, the other hidden, un-accused and unconfessed.

Hawthorn gets right the need for confession and repentance, perhaps even public repentance, but he misses (purposefully?) the wonderful truth of God, that once you have confessed and repented, you are forgiven. If it is true Godly repentance that is. And from there it is not a static existence but a moving forward away from the sin, if it is something you have cast aside, then it is behind you, and ever further behind.

Hester’s remorse seems to me to have been real, she is deeply pained by what she did, and is determined to bear quietly and with patience the punishment that is dealt out to her by the City Fathers. Although she is at a loss to whom she should turn to for comfort, seeking not the Cross, but the brand on her chest to bear her up. And (graciously) she is also determined to suffer silently, she does not disclose the one who was her partner in sin but leaves it up to him to confess. Which he does not.

As for Arthur his self punishment leans on the physical, beatings and long nights spent in anguish. But he will not step forward and acknowledge his part in the adultery, he loves himself to much and her to little. Thinking of his position in the community, and having to great a pride to admit to sin, he is silent while she suffers.

Hawthorn speaks of Arthur's abilities to preach to, and have sympathy with, the common man, due somehow to his sin. As if this was his first and only sin, and that it gives him the power to teach eloquently and with passion.

However can powerful and great teaching come out of bad fruit? Can unconfused sin give birth to good fruit?

There is another twisted person in this tale, the husband of Hester, Roger Chillingworth. This gentleman has no compunction to help Hester or even forgive her. Angry and bitter, he admits in a moment of self-truth that he should not have married her, since she is so much younger then he. And neither does he look with pity on her for having to live with the uncertainty of his death, due to not arriving in America after he sent her ahead from England, and then getting captured by Indians when he does arrive. He is only angry and determined to exact revenge on the man who got her pregnant. Forgoing his marriage vows he repudiates her, denying the relationship between them.

Discovering that it is Arthur he worms his way into Arthur’s life and then sneakily and nastily he turns up the heat of the self torment. Now I have to admit that this really didn’t bother me. In my opinion, that little snake deserved a good raking in private for what he wouldn’t take in public, and who better to not let Arthur get away with it then Hester’s husband? Except that he doesn’t do it out of love or a desire to right a wrong or turn someone from a crooked way, he does it retaliate. In a gruesome way he hides Arthur’s sin as well, and enjoys hiding it.

I find it bizarre that Hester at the end of the book actually considers running away with Arthur, what is up with that? The little runt lets her suffer for seven years alone....and when she tells him that Roger is her husband and is his tormenter, he is angry with her! Saying he will never forgive her for wronging him....WHAT? This is where you deck him and say, actually you’ll forgive HIM and walk away from his sniveling, blubbering form. But alas this is not what Hester does, they book a passage on a ship and agree to leave the next day, after he preaches one more time. But on his way out of the church he realizes he is dying, and in a belated attempt to rectify matters he climbs up on the scaffolding and admits to being Hester’s lover, then clutching his chest he dies, leaving Hester once again alone.

Maybe the point of Hawthorns book has escaped me, perhaps it was to show the sinfulness of man and that sin that can be hidden under a white washed wall, but inside are dead men’s bones. Or possibly he was trying to point out that self imposed punishment doesn’t cleans, or “be sure your sin will find you out...” or even “it is mine to avenge”.

But I find it frustrating that his characters talk the prettiest Bible language but don’t ever read the Bible, or finish the story. Yes there is sin, yes we all have sinned, but the Cross was for just such as these. Hawthorn draws people who “know” God, but then misrepresent His power. I know that not all come to know the Lord, not all are saved, this is reality, but for pities sake if you put Him in a book at least show one person meeting the life changing power of Jesus Christ crucified...unless of course you don’t believe in the cross, then by all means leave it out, but please leave out God as well, for you don’t rightfully know Him, and you should not speak of what you do not know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I have learned things since starting work at the hardware store.

A: Guys do gossip, they just do it at the store while buying tools, or leaning against a truck.

B: If you sweep the store, for sure in two minutes a logger will come in with mud on his boots.

C: There are small yellow panic aliens that live in the YOX colorant, and they come out when things get rough.

D: At closing time someone will come in for either paint or plumbing.

E: I hate the screw and nail department, the most annoying things to look up in the computer.

F: You don't clean by "dusting" a hardware store, because that is just displacing it.

G: The overstocked plumbing parts get married and start having kids, if left alone in the back room.

H: Filing can be a soothing and comforting thing to do, it gives one a place to hide if one sold some guy the wrong things.

I: While waiting for the paint shaker to finish you can take a short nap or write a text.

J: The guys will grouch about cool coffee but not bad coffee....go figure.

Maybe I'll have a few more observations in a the next weeks, I'll keep going through the alphabet, kinda like those books about murders...eeeeekkkk....