Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

the minister's black veil by nathaniel hawthorne

why does mr hooper wear the veil?

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Hooper maintains that the veil is a symbol that he is bound to wear day and night, and that no mortal shall ever see it withdrawn. Even Elizabeth, he says, cannot see his face. She inquires as to whether the veil is to demonstrate sorrow or sin. He replies that “if I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough, and if I cover it for secret sin, what mortal might not do the same?”

Though some may wonder why Hooper chooses to wear the veil, the reason is not a central point of the story. In fact, it is the ambiguity that makes the reaction of the townspeople all the more telling of their inherent sin and hypocritical nature. While speculating as to what horrific crime the minister must have committed, they overlook their own crimes, both large and small.