Hawkin’s coat, which is splattered with numerous stubborn stains, symbolizes Christendom, meaning the Christian community, while the stains represent sin. Hawkin laments to Patience, Conscience, and Will that laundering the coat only keeps it clean temporarily, suggesting the human inclination toward sin. Patience explains to Hawkin that the only thing that will clean his coat—that is, the only thing that will cleanse the Christian community from their sins and keep them from sinning in the future—is contrition (genuine remorse for one’s sins) and the sacrament of penance.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Hawkin’s Coat appears in Piers Plowman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...their journey, Patience, Conscience, and Will come across a wafer-seller named Hawkin, or Activa Vita. Hawkin’s coat is splattered with stains, like a “spot of insolent speech” or “stubborn will.” Conscience politely... (full context)