What's your scarlet letter?

Saw the delightful movie Juno this afternoon, and it got me thinking. Much has changed for unwed mothers since the time of Hester Prynne, who was branded as a sinner in The Scarlet Letter. But as the Bard said, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While pregnant girls are free to continue attending most public high schools today, the experience itself still segregates them from their peers. The beauty of the Juno script is in the way the wise-talking misfit is changed, how she evolves, as a result.

It put me in mind of this passage from The Scarlet Letter, which has haunted and inspired me since I was a wise-talking high school misfit, entranced by the idea that being cast out meant being set free:
But Hester Prynne, with a mind of native courage and activity, and for so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society, had habituated herself to such latitude of speculation as was altogether foreign to the clergyman. She had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness; as vast, as intricate and shadowy, as the untamed forest, amid the gloom of which they were now holding a colloquy that was to decide their fate. Her intellect and heart had their home, as it were, in desert places, where she roamed as freely as the wild Indian in his woods. For years past she had looked from this estranged point of view at human institutions, and whatever priests or legislators had established; criticizing all with hardly more reverence than the Indian would feel for the clerical band, the judicial robe, the pillory, the gallows, the fireside, or the church. The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,--stern and wild ones,--and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.

So what's your passport to the regions others dare not tread? D for Divorce? G for Gay? C for Cancer? W for Writer?


How about C for Courage because that's what it takes to quit fretting over what "everyone" will think and do your own thing. :)

Loved Juno, loved The Scarlett Letter enough to check out some of Hawthorne's lesser-known stories, such as the exceptionally-cool "Rappaccini's Daughter." Talk about a young woman facing social isolation...
Suzan Harden said…
How about "D" for "Do the right thing?" It seems so foreign, so alien, so completely inexplicable to other people that I or any one would turn in a purse found to authorities instead taking the money, admit to a judge that a mistake was made, be late to work because for stopping to help a stranger with a flat tire...

But then I've been recently told I'm judgmental. (VBG)

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