The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne takes place in the 1600s in Boston, which was a Puritan community at that time. The Puritans had extremely strict moral codes, and adultery, a subject matter in this novel, was deemed by the Puritans in the same way that felonies today are regarded. The novel's plot is directed by the Puritans' reactions to such behavior. It's a story of sin and the price that people pay for them, as well as the price that others are forced to pay for those sins. It's a story of guilt and the effect it has on you. It involves difficult decisions--do you admit your guilt and accept the punishment or do you hide it in an effort to still be in a position to do some good in the community? And do you forgive someone who hid his guilt while you accepted complete punishment? It is a book that makes the reader think about some very hard issues.