“Young Goodman Brown” and Belonging
To what extent are people willing to go to belong? Do some put their faith into belonging or are they willing to give up their faith to belong? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is a look at faith and the desire to belong.
Humans are social creatures and several millennia of conditioning has developed a strong desire to belong to something larger than oneself. But that desire to belong may, at times, be contrary to what one believes. Goodman Brown , the protagonist, finds himself facing such a dilemma. Brown must decide where to place his faith (you’ll find Faith is a key element to the story if you haven’t read it yet). Does Brown make a deal with the Devil where, “…the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints.” or does Brown hold true to what he believes? Brown knows that whatever his choice is there will be life long consequences and his faith (or Faith) will never be the same.
The desire to belong and to be part of a group is a common desire for most people. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” addresses this desire through a pretty explicit bit of symbolism, Faith. A take away for readers is to ask where do we put our faith? Do we put our faith in what we believe or do we give up our faith and make a deal with the Devil in order to belong, to be part of some special club?
Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories (1992/1884) by Nathaniel Hawthorne.