Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron"

Essay by coronaCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2003

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February 23, 2002

Freshman HR English II

The Enlightening

Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron" is a captivating short story which uses regionalism to illustrate the beauty and simplicity of the New England wilderness. Jewett romanticizes the common, country way of life by revealing it through Sylvia's, the protagonist, pure interaction with nature. This story is one of the many stories and novels Jewett has written which reflect a way life that was quickly diminishing with the advancement of the industrial revolution. In addition to this, Jewett places emphasis on issues such as the socialization of girls, the shift and balance of power between opposing sexes, and the need for women to be true to their nature. She centers the conflict between Sylvia, a young girl who loves nature, and an ornithologist from a nearby town. Sylvia's infatuation with the gentleman causes her to help him search for the white heron.

However, after climbing a tree, she decides that she will not disclose the heron's nest and sends the hunter on his way. The idea encompassed in this climb, however, is the exploration for knowledge and insight; a climb towards maturity.

As the story unfolds, Sylvia is seen driving home her cow who wants to engage in an "intelligent attempt to play hide and seek" (146). Miss Molly, the cow, and Sylvia are slowly pondering and seem to be procrastinating their attempt to reach their destination. It is during this period one becomes aware of Sylvia's love for nature. "...[She] had never been alive at all before she came to live at the farm...[She] whispered that this was a beautiful place to live in and she would never wish to go home" (147). Her existence is one of peace and harmony with nature. Moreover, this can be...