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The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Summary Key Questions and Answers
Summary Key Questions and Answers

15) What does the last sentence of the novel mean?

The novel ends with a symbolic epitaph from Hester’s grave, in the future. The last sentence reveals the words carved into her tombstone: “On a Field, Sable, the Letter A, Gules.” These words evoke a visual symbol of the rich brown, or sable, earth upon which a red, or gules, letter “A” sits. The narrator also provides a conflicting image to the scene: The somber setting is relieved by “one ever glowing point of light” even though this light is “gloomier than the shadow.” These images reflect and represent Hester’s persecution, struggles, and resilient heart.