Critical Analysis of White Heron

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The White Heron is a spiritual story portraying great refinement and concerns with higher things in life. A 9 year old girl once isolated in the city found fulfillment in a farm surrounded by nature. Too those less unfortunate, money charm and other attractions can be intoxicated; Sylvia did not bite. She could have helped her situation and found a way to wealth but in the end she realized that it wouldn’t help her to be the person she wanted to be. This paper will illustrate a critical analysis of the story of White Heron and focus on the relationship between the literary elements of the story, plot, characterization, style, symbolism and women’s concerns that are specific to this period.

Sylvia was a 9 year old “nature girl” who met a charming ornithologist hunter on a mission to find the allusive white heron. Sylvia was about 8 years old when she moved with her grandmother from the city to a farm, “a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm.” (Jewett, 1884, 1914, qtd in McQuade,, 1999, p. 1641). Sylvia finds the secret, the white heron. Instead of telling the young hunter, she keeps the secret, because in her mind nature is more powerful than her feelings for “the enemy.”

Sylvia, not yet a woman, is at the threshold of womanly changes. As a child she has no “need” yet for a man. She has been taken out of the city into the backwoods where she has no need for societal norms and she is still developing (in all sense, as a female and as a person). Along comes a young, handsome, genteel, rich, ornithologist, hunter and she feels drawn to him, to his charm, to his wealth and kindness. As she is developing, she is tantalized by the societal norms he represents. She is ready to give up the backwoods (a symbol of herself) for all he (a symbol of society) has to...
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