As he spoke, he pointed his staff at a female figure on the path, in whom Goodman Brown recognized a very pious and exemplary dame, who had taught him his catechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual advisor, jointly with the minister and deacon Gookin.
The narrator describes the scene in which Goodman Brown and the Old Man spot Goody Cloyse in the woods. Brown knows her to be a model citizen, not only someone to emulate but someone who actively taught him the religious doctrine that supposedly guides his community’s life. She serves as a community leader, to the extent any woman can during that time. Readers soon learn that Brown feels alarmed to see her in the woods and does not want her to see him with the Old Man.
‘Ah, forsooth, and is it your worship indeed?’ cried the good dame. ‘Yea, so it is, and in the very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown, the grandfather of the silly fellow that now is. But—would your worship believe it?—my broomstick hath strangely disappeared . . . ’
After crying out that she has been touched by the Devil, Goody Cloyse immediately makes clear that she recognizes and welcomes him, even, or perhaps especially, because he is disguised as her old friend the late Goodman Brown, young Goodman Brown’s grandfather. She explains that she is only walking in the woods because she has lost her broomstick. Young Goodman Brown thus unavoidably understands that the woman who taught him his catechism is, in fact, a witch.
Deacon Gookin seized his arms and led him to the blazing rock. Thither came also the slender form of a veiled female, led between Goody Cloyse, that pious teacher of the catechism, and Martha Carrier, who had received the Devil’s promise to be queen of hell.
The narrator reveals that the leaders of Brown’s Salem village community are also leaders in the worship of the Devil and actively recruit new converts, in this case Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith. Seeing his village’s leaders as part of this congregation makes Goodman Brown realize that not worshipping the Devil would place him at odds with his community, something he has always been taught to avoid. He now realizes that sinfulness and hypocrisy are the norm.
Goody Cloyse, that excellent old Christian, stood in the early sunshine at her own lattice, catechizing a little girl who had brought her a pint of morning’s milk. Goodman Brown snatched away the child as from the grasp of the fiend himself.
Having retuned to town after either witnessing a satanic worship service or just dreaming of one, Goodman Brown no longer knows what to believe. Here, the narrator explains that upon seeing Goody Cloyse teaching a child her catechism exactly as she once taught him, Brown tries to protect the girl from Goody Cloyse and takes the girl away. The fact that Goody Cloyse is behaving exactly the same as usual could be evidence that Brown only imagined her Devil worship, but her behavior may also serve as evidence of her evil hypocrisy.