Nathaniel Hawthorne begins with the image of a young man on a ferry digging through his pockets for change. He is arriving in a new town in search of his kinsman, major molineux. He is very unfamiliar with this town and the way towns are set up, due to his being from the country. His father is a New England clergyman, and Robin, the young man, felt that since he had reached the age of 18 it was time for him to see the world. As he walked through the town, he looked at the dwellings and deduced that some just weren't big and fancy enough to be his kinsman's home. He stops a man on the street by pulling on his coattails and asks him where his kinsman lives. The man on the street laughed at him. He stopped in at a tavern and asked there and had the same response.He continues to wander around town and stumbles upon an older man who appears to be homeless. He tells him that if he will stay standing there for a while his kinsman will be by shortly. Robin sits patiently and talks to the old man; then he hears loud noises that remind him of a party. When the "party" rounds the corner, he sees his kinsman, major molineux, tarred and feathered. He is embarrassed as is Major Molineux. He decides that he wants to go home and tries to leave, but an older man tells him to give city life one more go and that he may be able to make it in the world without the help of his kinsman.
So let's just say that this story really confused me. One of my biggest questions is, What did Major Molineux do to get tarred and feathered? Is that the reason everyone laughed when Robin inquired as to the whereabouts of Major Molineux? Did the whole town know what was going on and they didn't have the heart to tell him, or did they think it was funny that he had no idea?
My next question is about the ugly man from the tavern. To me it seemed that he was Hawthorne's representation of the devil. He had two bumps on his forehead, a black and red face, and fiery eyes. Did he represent temptaion that Major Molineux gave into. I also wondered about the girl in the scarlet petticoat. Was she a prostitute? Was she the ugly faced man taken into another form? I believe that this man was able to take the form of others and was trying to tempt Robin also. However, Robin was from a good family and had good values and did not give into the temptation. When I thought about this it reminded me of reading 'The Crucible." That entire town was scared of witchcraft and the housekeeper Tituba was hanged for it. The feelings of despair Robin had reflected those of the townspeople in "The Crucible."
Another question... Are the stocks jail? I'm assuming yes, but I really have no idea.