In Chapter Three - "The Recognition," Hawthorne makes four references to
Indians. First, he utilizes them kidnapping Roger Chillingworth as part of
the plot that partially explains his two years absence from the side of his
wife. An Indian is Chillingworth's companion as he learns that his wife has
committed adultery. Hawthorne uses the word "savage" to describe part of
Chillingworth's garb; undoubtedly that part of his outfit would have been
gleamed from his Indian captors. Second, he alludes to the historical
practice of exchanging prisoners for other prisoners for goods or money.
Third, Hawthorne ironically contrasts how the punishing of "iniquity" must be
such a marvelous contrast to the behavior he observed among the Indians.
Fourth, he shows the easy camaraderie Chillingworth has with the Indian --
directly contrasting the relationship we might have assumed a white man to
have with Indians.
1. From this intense consciousness of being the object of severe and
universal observation, the wearer of the scarlet letter was at length
relieved by discerning, on the outskirts of the crowd, a figure which
irresistibly took possession of her thoughts. An Indian, in his native garb,
was standing there; but the red men were not so infrequent visitors of the
English settlements, that one of them would have attracted any notice from
Hester Prynne, at such a time; much less would he have excluded all other
objects and ideas from her mind. By the Indian's side, and evidently
sustaining a companionship with him, stood a white man, clad in a strange
disarray of civilized and savage costume.
2. "You say truly," replied the other. "I am a stranger, and have been a
wanderer, sorely against my will. I have met with grievous mishaps by sea and
land, and have been long held in bonds among the heathen-folk, to the
southward; and am now brought hither by this Indian to be redeemed out of my
3. "Truly, friend, and methinks it must gladden your heart, after your
troubles and sojourn in the wilderness," said the townsman, "to find
yourself, at length, in a land where iniquity is searched out, and punished
in the sight of rulers and people, as here in our godly New England."
4. He bowed courteously to the communicative townsman, and, whispering a few
words to his Indian attendant, they both made their way through the crowd.