The Minister's Black Veil
Length: 386 words (1.1 double-spaced pages)
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Why is the kid wearing suspenders and thick glasses the obvious target for a bully? The answer lies within the human mind, coming from our ancestors, who were hunters of meat. It is human nature to judge a book by its cover, the same way Father Hooper is judged for wearing his black veil. Although Mr. Hooper may not have intended too, his simple act frightens many, and he becomes what they claim he is.
At first sight, his parish is full of wonder. Things like "Are you sure that is our Parson?" are said. Immediately insecurity grips the congregation, and somebody says, "I don't like it." Finally, there is the aspect of fear when a man states, "Our parson has gone mad." In the course of a minute, Father Hooper manages to completely change the tone of the community by wearing a simple black veil over his face.
The general feeling in the community becomes fear and worry. They do not understand or know why Father Hooper covers his face. All they know is that they do not like it and then they leave the rest to their imaginations. Their gossip portrays Father Hooper as a demon of sorts, and people allude to the fact that he has some big dark secret with which he hides behind the veil.
Their ignorance even spreads to his wife. She asks him all sorts of questions about the "horrid" veil. Getting cryptic answers, she leaves him. The act of her leaving seems to represent his departure from humanity. Nobody talks to him the same way, and he even gets such a strong reputation outside of the community, that many outsiders come to his sermons.
Oddly, nobody seems to sympathize with him, but Mr. Hooper does not seem to want sympathy. A few times people ask what the significance of the veil is, but they are met with cryptic answers as well. Not one person in the town tries to council Father Hooper, which indicates they are genuinely afraid, or they enjoy commotion caused by his act. This makes Father Hooper even more reclusive, which in turn makes him look as if he is plotting or hiding something. This viscous cycle continues to his death.
Father Hooper becomes a man that children run from and the people shun.
Wherever he goes, the people feel as if death and destruction follow. He has not changed his personality, or any of his other behavior patterns, yet the town's people insist that he is a different man. To the townsfolk, it seems impossible that a man with such a different dress could possibly be good, let alone a Parson to such a religious community.
The apparently severe change in appearance changes Father Hooper in the eyes of the community. Although he is not trying to be frightening, the people who know him believe he has become a different person. In this way, the people's judgement forces him to become what they say. He cannot live his usual life with the veil on, because it has affected the mind of every person in the community. The veil has made him a different Father Hooper, one to be feared, not loved.