The Scarlet Letter: Novel Summary: Chapters 2-3

Chapter 2: A town meeting is taking place and the people of the town, mainly the women, are gathered for the release of the adulteress, Hester Prynne.  She steps out of the prison with the town beadle leading her with his hand on her shoulder.  Hawthorn describes her as beautiful with a very proud stature that does not cower to the crowd of disdain that surrounds her.  On her chest she bears the scarlet letter A that is surrounded by shining gold thread upon a gown that scandalizes the women of the town.  Clutched close to her breast is the child that was produced by her adultery and the apparent reason she was not more harshly punished for her crime.  She stood there under public scrutiny, not with a look of shame but almost bewilderment that her life had panned out as it had. 
Chapter 3: Mistress Prynne is placed upon the pillory for three hours so all can see her shame.  As she is standing there with her babe, she notices a new man in town along with an Indian.  From the moment she sees him, she cannot take her eyes from him.  An angry look quickly flashes across the mans face at the sight of her and he inquires to the town person next to him why the woman is made to stand upon the pillory.  Both the man and the readers are informed that Mistress Prynne was married to a man who has not yet returned from the Netherlands where they sailed from to New England.  Because she was so long away from her husband, it is obvious that he was not the father of her child.  The man asked of her sentence, and of the man who did father the child and the towns person told him that the father is not known.  The Governor of the town who is standing on a higher platform then appeals to the Reverend Dimmesdale to extract the name of father from Mistress Prynne.  After an emotional plea to Mistress Prynne, she still refuses to state the name of the father of her child, and states that her child has only a heavenly father.