White Heron

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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A White Heron " A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett is very much an essay of duality. This is seen in the constant appearance of black and white through out the story. Black indicates darkness, ignorance, and evil. The hawks are "dark against the blue sky," and the "shadow of the trees" frightens Sylvia just before she meets the hunter. Sylvia's grandmother warns her that she fears Sylvia might be sucked into the "soft black mud" near the heron's resting place in the swamp. On the other hand, white illustrates light, good, awakening, and freedom. The essay is titled the White Heron. Sylvia's face shines like a "pale star" when she reaches the zenith of her climb. Everything is separated into black and white except Sylvia. Her eyes are grey, thus indicating she has both good and evil inside. She is torn by her love for the hunter, she sees him killing these birds, preventing them from soaring in the sky.

In the end of this Rite of passage story, Sylvia chooses the path of silence, not telling the hunter where she has found the white heron and thus saves the beautiful birds of nature for the time being.