Scarlet Letter


Friday, April 06, 2018

Not that “Scarlet Letter,” of course, but I did find this symbol revealed on a car parked in our lot at the Gazette during a light snowfall one evening. The residual heat from the engine had kept the snow from sticking to the hood, but just over the supporting structure, betraying the shape of the A-frame hidden below.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 19th-century gothic romance, set in 17th-century Puritan Massachusetts, Hester Prynne is made to wear a scarlet letter “A” for her assumed sin of adultery. This was never on my own high-school reading list, but, like most classic tales, it could be ripe for adaptation in our modern era.

Perhaps an allegory using Volkswagen’s admitted sin — and atonement — in bearing false witness about its diesel engine emissions? Exploring the illicit affair between engineering and marketing, cold intellect and passionate salesmanship, sins, secrets, public shaming— even penitence. Oh, how rich! Or would that be metaphor, not allegory? That’s just one of the reasons writing is not my strong suit.

— Kevin Gutting/Gazette staff