"the child finally announced that she had not been made at all, but had been plucked by her mother off the bush of wild roses, that grew by the prison-door"
A wanton woman plucking wild roses
Public DomainA wanton woman plucking wild roses - Credit: Alfred Glendening jr.
Wild rose
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWild rose - Credit: Coralie Mercier

Hawthorne tells us in the first chapter that this rose bush sprang up under the footsteps of the antinomian dissenter Anne Hutchinson: Pearl, once more, is the product and embodiment of lawlessness. It is also significant that the wild rose has stood for secrecy since the Roman period, when a specimen was placed outside the door of a room in which confidential matters were being discussed. To this day, the expression “under the rose” means to keep a secret. In this sense, Pearl’s apparently perverse answer to John Wilson’s question is in fact extremely apposite, for a covert transgression of the colony’s laws, the details of which cannot be disclosed, was indeed what made her.