White Heron Symbolism

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The Beauty of Nature
In Sara Orne Jewett’s short fiction, The White Heron, she uses symbolism throughout the story to convey different ideas about the value nature and preserving it to its fullest. The story starts off with a young girl named Sylvia who moved to the woods of New England to live with her grandmother because of her distaste to the city. She spends all her time in the woods and makes friends with the animals within them. She meets a young man who is a hunter trying to find a rare white heron for his collection. As the story progresses Sylvia is challenged with whether or not she should tell the hunter where to find the bird. During this journey she discovers her passion for nature and her love and values for the animals that live in it.

The main symbol used throughout the story is nature. The main character is the girl Sylvia whose name comes from the root sylvan, which is a spirit that lives in nature. The young girl has her sanctuary in the isolated wilderness of with her grandmother, Mrs. Tilley. After she moves there from her previous home in a crowded manufacturing town, it is noticeable that her own well-being has improved and, “as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm”. Her living in the country speaks for itself showing that she likes the remoteness and peacefulness of the environment around her. Another idea that the symbol of nature represents is Sylvia’s need for adventure as well as her love of animals. Sylvia knows and is in love with the wildlife around her, and her want for adventure creates the feeling of peace within herself. When talking about the direction to take to look for the bird, Sylvia’s grandmother explains how well the girl knows the woods when she says, “There ain’t a foot o’ ground she don’t know her way over, and the wild creatur’s counts her one o’ themselves. Squer’ls she’ll tame to come an’ feed right out o’ her hands, and all sorts o’ birds.”...
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