The first few chapters introduce the theme of sin, when they tell the reader about the prison, the scaffold, and how Hester is being publicly condemned for adultery. These chapters also show the reader that the society is depicting the political reality of Hesterâ€™s World, the Puritan society. The Puritans intended to create a â€œUtopianâ€ society, but it can be seen in these chapters that this world already knows sin. The women of the town criticize her for embroidering the scarlet letter, the symbol of her shame, with such care and in such a flashy manner. This seems to declare that Hester is proud, rather than ashamed, of her sin. In reality, Hester just learns to accept her sin as a part of herself, just like her child.
Chapter five deals with one of the major questions of the book: why does Hester choose to stay in Boston when she is free to leave? The narrator suggests quite a few explanations. Hester's explanation to herself is that New England was the scene of her crime; therefore, it should also be the scene of her punishment. The narrator adds that Hester's life has been too profoundly marked by the things that have happened to her here for her to leave. Additionally, he adds, Hester feels bound to Pearl's father, who apparently continues to live in Boston. But there seems to be more to Hester's refusal to leave.
Each time Hester watches or talks to Pearl, she is reminded of the life she has chosen for herself. Pearl is the sign of Hesterâ€™s shame. However, she is also the sign of her greatest treasure. Pearls existence lets Hester believe that out of every sin comes a precious treasure.