The Custom House is an introduction to how The Scarlet Letter came into being. The narrator starts out by stating that he is the surveyor of the Salem Custom House; which is a building where taxes are paid. He describes how the place is old, run down and half finished. He also gives information about his fellow workers that are senile and entering the early stages of Alzheimer by telling the same stories over and over again. The narrator gives a brief family history stating that his ancestors has always lived in Salem, and that any time he leaves Salem there is always something pulling him back. Now that the customhouse is run down and old there is not a lot of business as it was back in the day. Nowadays the narrator tries to find things to amuse him while he sits in the lonely custom house. One day he goes wandering into the vacant part of the building. He notices a few barrels with important documents that must be from Salem’s past. As he looks through the important documents he finds a manuscript with a piece of cloth that is scarlet and embroidered in gold that takes the shape of the letter “A”. In a weird kind of way the narrator holds the scarlet letter upon his chest and it burns him. The manuscript reveals that Johntan Pue, who was also a custom surveyor, wrote down the accounts of events that took place during the middle of the seventeenth century.
The narrator now begins to have thoughts about writing the accounts of Hester Prynne’s experiences. However, he keeps thinking about his Puritan ancestors, who despise the idea of writing. Even though the story he will write will be sort of fictional he believes that it will still maintain the same as the original outline. The narrator finds it hard to write around the uninspiring old men. However, there is a new president elected and he now has more time to be in the comfort of his home and write his little heart away.
As I was reading this chapter I felt completed, because I had the experience to read how The Scarlett letter came about. It was pretty interesting to how Hawthorne could actually relate to his own novel. I was also surprised that the person who wrote the story never really came up with the story. It was very interesting to know how Salem had an impact on the narrator. The Scarlett Letter reminds me of the Crucible and how the author gave insight on what was going on during those times with fiction stories.
I believe that Hawthorne’s purpose in writing this chapter is to inform his audiences. This chapter is actually the hook of