Hawthorne draws attention to Faith
’s pink ribbons in the story’s first few paragraphs, when she tries to convince Goodman Brown
to stay at home. Delicate (Faith lets “the wind play with the pink ribbons) and naively or childishly cheerful (Faith has a “melancholy air…in spite of her pink ribbons”), the pink ribbons symbolize faith and innocence. In the forest, Goodman Brown loses his innocent faith and becomes certain that Faith has been tempted by the devil when he sees her pink ribbon fluttering down from the cloudy sky and snagging in a tree. As Goodman Brown begins to fear that everyone he knows is a hypocritical sinner, the pink ribbons take on a new meaning: they now symbolize the mere superficial appearance
of innocent faith. When Goodman Brown returns to Salem in the morning, he sees that Faith is still wearing her pink ribbons, but their meaning, which was so clear and favorable when he set out for the forest, is now muddied: do her untouched ribbons mean that Faith never left Salem, and Goodman Brown’s experience in the forest was all a dream? or did Faith simply replace her lost ribbon, and are the ribbons further proof of her hypocritical ability to seem moral despite sinful actions?