Young Goodman Brown is the story that presents the struggle of one man, representing all Christians, especially as second-generation believers, in his Christian walk, because he placed his faith in other people rather than having a personal attachment to his religious convictions.This specific journey is being taken by Goodman Brown through the woods to have a confrontation with the devil and all things dark under the sun.
He sets off, leaving behind his wife, Faith, with the promise that after tonight, he would never again leave her alone and that he will Cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven. (p.24) It is his Faith that detains him from this confrontation (Faith kept me back a while p. 25) and his Faith that he keeps referring to attempting to resist the temptations of Satan.
Despite his pause, he meets the dark traveler and agrees to accompany him deeper into the darkness of the forest, continuing further away from his Faith. He is arrogant enough to comment numerous times that he has the ability to turn around at any given moment, but the appearance of several godly personages that he holds in high esteem pass him on their way to the dark contingency, and so he continues justifying his lack of faith by theirs. And so he continues on his journey until he reaches the satanic gathering where, even though his belief in the good of mankind is shattered by what he views as all the hypocrites that he has grown up respecting, he individually resists the dark sidenot because he is righteous and is able to resist the temptation, but rather because he is scared of the repercussions of his commitment.What we can glean from Hawthornes allegory on faith as modern Christians is to place our faith not in people or tradition as Goodman Brown did, but rather to have a personal relationship with God so that our faith is our own. If we fail to do this, we are likely to fall into the trap that Brown and have our faith shatter when people, as they ultimately will, backslide in their own faith.
The purpose of this story is to present the problems associated with having your faith invested into people and society at large, rather than in a personal, intimate relationship with God.