I

I think I’ve just had a small epiphany.

I’ve gone through the past three weeks feeling like I haven’t been much affected by this project. Sure it was kind of fun and interesting to see people’s reactions, but I didn’t really think I’ve had an evolution of character. But maybe, in a way, I did.

I’ve always thought of myself as a weak person. I know I’m very shy, and have been for as long as I can remember. But if I am very accepting of “I”, the root of most of my problems, then maybe I am stronger than I had originally thought. My policy thus far concerning my letter has been if people guess it, then I will tell them if it’s right. (I came to this conclusion after the third person guessed it, so that doesn’t count.) But I think maybe it’s only a really valuable experience if you give away what it stands for. So although I am nervous to tell, I will.

My “I” stands for insecurity. But maybe it doesn’t apply as much as I thought.

Holier-than-thou Hawthorne

I would like to make a confession. I love Hawthorne’s style of writing – not pretentious at all. I love wearing my letter all day at school. And since I didn’t confess what my “sin” actually is, I am going to slowly wither away until I finally die a grandiose and spectacular death.

April Fools. It’s a little late, but whatever.

The Scarlet Letter is infused with religion. Why is Pearl the epitome of the scarlet letter? Because Dimmesdale didn’t confess his sin. Therefore she is the devil.

Why is adultery so bad in the first place? Because it interferes with the sacred union of marriage. Why is marriage so sacred? Because of religion. Sure, it’s an awful thing to do to your partner, but it’s only so terrible for religious reasons.

Dimmesdale was, indeed, very religious, so that is why he felt so awful about it and eventually died. But Hawthorne is a very holier-than-thou type of narrator. If someone sent a novel to an editor nowadays with that much commentary on the human psyche, and not much of anything on the plot, it would be rejected. I don’t think it makes a good story. You start to lose your reader. It’s true that this novel was from a different time, but it’s still hard to get through it without it feeling tedious, preach-y and self-indulgent.

Why?

At first, I always had people asking about why I was wearing the letter. Friends, I don’t mind. But random people? I guess it’s okay if they are just curious, but when they ask me what it means I get kind of amazed at their gall. Especially since I’ve told them it’s a personal sin, what makes them think I would tell them?

I know a lot of my fellow classmates have commented on this, but I felt this still needed addressing. I have a hard enough time telling my friends, so why would I tell a stranger?

I once encountered two women in the hall as I was heading to lunch, and they asked about it, and I explained the project.

“So, what is it?” one woman asked.

I paused, thinking on how to best address this.

“I’m not going to tell you.”

All of a sudden, they laughed as if they thought I had attitude. But seriously, isn’t that kind of a personal question? We’re not wearing these letters because we think its a fun accessory. In fact, I just got a bunch of new necklaces, and the letter has been blocking them, much to my chagrin.

I know it will naturally make people curious, and I’m sure they want to know, but can’t they use a little restraint? I guess the human voyeuristic sense is stronger than that of self-restraint.

Wrong Choice?

I am wondering if I chose the wrong “sin”. I don’t feel ashamed when people see my letter.  I have only felt vulnerable when people have guessed what it stands for. Does that just mean I am very accepting of my weakness?

The only other thing I can think of would be something else that is not a sin/weakness, but it does make me ashamed. It would evoke more of a response when people encountered it. So would that have been a better choice?

Nevermind.

I stand corrected. My door might as well be fully transparent.

On my second day, not only did one person guess what my letter stood for, but two people did. And one of them wasn’t even a close friend.

In English class, a friend (well, nevermind, you all know who it is – Rebekah) announced to me that she was going to guess what my letter meant. And then, after only about two or three guesses, she figured it out with an “aha”, a snap, and a point in my direction. Once she guessed it, she knew she was correct.

The second person was just someone telling me that he/she (aren’t you proud, Tolman?) was going to guess. He/she obviously didn’t know me very well, and shot out a few ridiculous conjectures, and then “—–” (“—–” stands for my weakness, by the way.). Afterward, when I didn’t reply, he/she said “no, that can’t be it”, and continued.

I guess I should have figured that this weakness of mine would be so transparent. It’s probably fairly obvious upon getting to know me. Rebekah did tell me that it more applied to me in middle school, and that I’m outgrowing it more, now. I guess that makes sense – I’m coming more to terms with it. Most people could probably figure it out if they tried. I just don’t want to give it away, because I don’t want people to think less of me, or think me vulnerable. Though I think I come across that way regardless.

In middle school this was especially prevalent. One time a classmate confronted me about it.  She was my lab partner, and not a friend of mine. This accusation surprised me so much that I just conceded – something I’ve regretted ever since that day in eighth grade. So many times I will wish I said something after the conversation has taken place; I hate being put on the spot.

But I’ve started rambling. The door is ajar, as Mr. Tolman so aptly noted. It would probably seem silly after my last post, but I still don’t think anyone else will come out with the correct guess (to my face) anymore.

The Door

Well, more of a virtual door. You’d be hard-pressed to find a real door on the internet. But anyways.

The Scarlet Letter began by introducing a door to symbolize the beginning of the story. And this is the beginning of my blog. So imagine yourself opening a broad mahogany door into the rich and magical world of my thoughts. Not a depressing gray one adorned with spikes, like the door from the novel. Inside this door is the meaning of the letter I. The way I visualize it, I is the root for most of my problems. I’m not even sure I believe in sin (besides murder, etc), so this letter represents what I see as my greatest personality/character weakness.

Though I sincerely doubt that someone will read this who is not in my English class or is a parent/friend, I will describe this project just in case. My English class is reading The Scarlet Letter, and our teacher has created a social project to go along with it. Each person in our class has to determine our greatest sin or weakness, and create a letter that represents it. We have to wear it to school everyday and record our reactions in our own blogs. I have chosen the letter I. I simply drew a blue bubble letter on a white square of paper. Instant masterpiece, I know.

Today was our first day. The goal of this project was to make us more aware about this weakness and see people’s reactions. I think we were supposed to be ashamed, in a way. If I were Hester, I would be deeply ashamed if everyone knew upon looking at me that I was an adulterer. But I am simply enjoying it so far. I like seeing people confused as to what my letter might represent, and seeing how well they know me if their guesses are close. Maybe this means I didn’t choose the right weakness.

If I’ve learned anything so far, it would probably be that my mahogany door wouldn’t actually be made of wood. It is more transparent than I had thought. During lunch, my friend already guessed what my I represents. Our conversation went a little something like this:

“So, what does it mean?”

“Pff, I’m not telling you. If you want to know, guess.”

Right here she thought a little bit and then returned with “insubordinate.”

“Insubordinate? That’s a weakness?”

She looked at me.

I continued, “I think it’s healthy to question authority sometimes.”

She nodded, giving me that. “Yeah, you do have a point.”

I leaned back against the seat, crossed my arms, and looked at her in a way that I think was challenging. “How well do you know me?”

She considered me for a moment here, and then guessed correctly.

I was a little amazed that it was so easy for her. I didn’t think she knew me that well. Or perhaps I am just that easy to figure out. I’ve learned from others that I am apparently very easy to read; my emotions are written all over my face. This doesn’t make me thrilled, but there isn’t a whole lot I can do. Who can go against their natural instinct to display emotions?

I am not anticipating that anyone else will guess what my letter means. And I am not planning on telling anyone. I am simply wondering whether I will get anything out of this project after the initial “this is new.” So, welcome to my blog. Maybe we can discover together what this door really looks like.