The White Heron and the New England Nun

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The White Heron depicts a story of a little girl who leads a life of respect and love of nature rather than that of fortune. Early on in the story, she meets a boy who is a self-proclaimed ornithologist, a scientist that studies birds. He is willing to pay ten dollars to whomever can show him the White Heron he had once seen. It is now up to Sylvia, the young girl, to make a decision either in favor of the ornithologist or the white heron. Ultimately, she will be making a decision to acquiesce to male dominance or not.

The pine tree in which Sylvia climbs in order to see the white heron up close can be represented as a symbol of life. "Now she thought of the tree with a new excitement, for why, if one climbed it at break of day, could not one see all the world, and easily discover whence the white heron flew…" (Jewett 466). The tree actually takes on the characteristics of an animal, when Sylvia is climbing the tree and the twigs scratch her with "angry like talons" (Jewett 466). Sylvia continues on this obstacle up and up the tree, and continuing on towards her revelation. The birds of the forest begin to sing louder and louder as Sylvia climbs, meaning she is coming ever so closely to the top of the tree or the climax of her new life. She finally sees the white heron and is eager with anticipation to tell the boy of the path to find it.

Sylvia ventures home and the young ornithologist and Sylvia's grandmother are both waiting for her. "He can make them rich with money; he has promised it, and they are poor now. He is so well worth making happy; and he waits to hear the story she can tell" (Jewett 468). Again the idea of male and female views occurs with Sylvia contemplating the decision of telling the young ornithologist about the white heron and how to Sylvia he is "well worth" it. There is a conflict of allowing a man to decide her fate, or Sylvia deciding for herself. "The murmur of the pine's green branches is in her ears, she remembers...
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