Reading Lives: The Scarlet Letter

A student of mine said The Scarlet Letter may be about adultery, but no one ever seems to have sex. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, Hester Prynne is accused of adultery and forced to wear a scarlet A on the bodice of her dress. But the novel is not so much about adultery, but about one of Hawthorne’s favorite themes: the devastating effect of hidden sin on man’s psyche. Hester, who must endure openly the consequences of her sin, learns to endure. Arthur Dimmesdale, her lover and the town’s preacher, suffers from keeping his part in the affair a secret. Of course, it doesn’t help that Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s  husband, returns to town, determined to find out who fathered Hester’s child.

Our question for the week was this: If we had to wear a letter on our chests, what would it be and why?

Colette: I think the letter sewed onto my chest would have to be an “O”.  I’d like to think it stands for “organized” but I’m afraid my family would say it stands for “OCD” with a capital “O”.  I used to be just an organized person; I made “To Do” lists and prioritized well and I generally put things back where they belonged.  It made me efficient and kept me on track. That was then.  My son and I went to visit my aunt over Christmas, and we hadn’t been in the door more than 5 minutes when he leaned in close and whispered “You’re not going to want to look at the wall.”  Of course that made me look immediately, and I knew right away to what he was alluding.  She had a wall covered in family pictures. Happy, smiling and very Crooked family pictures.  There wasn’t a frame on the wall that wasn’t tilting or bagging off to one side or another. Had she hung them with chewing gum? Can she see they’re askew?  I wanted to straighten them sooo badly.  I looked at them all evening like a car wreck on the side of the road.  They made me uneasy.  I knew it; my son knew it.  That’s when I realized my “O” had seeped over from “organized” to “Oh crud, I’m OCD.”  So far it isn’t crippling my life – I  prefer clean, orderly things in my own spaces, and my socks are organized by color (yikes),  but I am still okay with other people’s spaces not being that way.  Mostly.  I’m just hoping my co-workers aren’t reading this and thinking “O? Give that girl a big Hester sized ‘A’ for ‘annoyingly anal.'”  Something about that doesn’t sound as good as “organized.”

Emily: This is a trick. It’s like the job interview question, “What’s your greatest weakness?” You can’t answer truthfully. You have choose something that might be construed as a weakness and spin it to sound good – like ‘P’ for Perfectionist. Anyhow I decided to beat the system and go for ‘U’ for Unknowable. (Or “P” for paranoid–JL side comment)

Sally: My letter would be “B” for the “Biking librarian”.

Pam:  The Jolly Librarian is giving Pam “S” for sickly. She has the flu and has been out all week.

Jolly Librarian: “O” for oversleeper. I hate mornings. With a passion. No one can slam a hand down on the snooze button with more ferocity than I. And even on those rare occasions when I make it somewhere in the early morning, I am grumpy, sluggish, and spacey. Until noon hits, and then I perk right back up. I totally agree with the sentiment, “I could be a morning person if morning started at noon.”

One thought on “Reading Lives: The Scarlet Letter

  1. HAHAHA! I am just now reading this; it had dawned on me that I never ‘turned in my letter’, because of being out sick last week (and I had also guessed yesterday when it occurred to me, that Jolly would give me a big fat S, and sure enough — Although, I think I should be granted a W, for Wipey, always going crazy at the grime on our computer desks, keyboards, screens and upstairs tables! Still, I think my letter – if I could still declare one, other than an comical W, would truly be an U, for Unknown…I love to seek the unknown, and sadly, struggle terribly with making decisions for fear of settling for less than the greatest choice, so my letter is a U.

    Lastly, I just had to crack up at not only the weaving of JL’s sentences (including, and I quote “No one can slam a hand down on the snooze button with more ferocity than I” –you ARE WRONG, by the way, I have you beat, and I have NO DOUBT…I even groan and yell AT the clock buzzer; I’m AWFUL. But, at Colette’s description of not only her son leaning over to forewarn her of ‘the wall’, ha, but of her description, in utter unsettled horror, of the array of tilted frames “bagging off to one side : ‘There wasn’t a frame on the wall that wasn’t tilting or bagging off to one side or another. Had she hung them with chewing gum? Can she see they’re askew?”….Bagging off? Hung them with Chewing Gum??

    Still laughing….You guys are a hoot to work with!

    Glad to be back….


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