The Scarlet Letter

Why wasn't Hester sentenced to death for her adultery?

Why didn't they kill her?

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The leaders felt that it was worse to live in shame for the rest of her life. THey really liked making a living example out of her to mock and scorn. People also wanted to find out who the father was. That provided much conjecture and gossip. Also, while she was pregnant with Pearl, they would not put a child to death.