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Hester is the culprit.
The community's reaction to Hester, as they watch her on the scaffold, not only gives us a sense of how unfavorably they view the crime, but also suggests that there might be a possibility for a groundswell of change. Most of the people watching Hester's punishment believe that it is far too lenient. Some say they would like to rip the letter right off her chest; others decry the failure of lawmakers to put Hester to death. Yet, there are a few who believe it is more than enough: as one bystander remarks, she feels every stitch in her chest.