Comparing and contrasting Jewett's Sylvy in "A White Heron" with May
Bartram of James's "The Beast in the Jungle" proves to be an interesting task.
How can two such unlike characters be so alike. Only on close examination do these common threads appear. In the story "A White Heron," Sylvy is presented as a young, pre- adolescent girl, living in the country with her grand mother. They are very isolated to themselves, living fairly simple and frugal lives. Sylvy has a few mundane responsibilities which give way to plenty of time for meandering about, and day dreaming while setting about her task. One evening, after much searching for their cow, which proved to be a daily chore, she was coercing the cow back home when surprised by the presence of a stranger. He was ever so polite and friendly. He was hunting the Great White Heron and had hoped she or her family might put him up for the evening. In a nice sort of way he was pushy and insistent. Not used to interacting with many people, the reader can see it would have been a difficult situation for her to handle any other way. Rather, it handled her. The grandmother was most receptive and hospitable. Over the course of the short stay, Sylvy realized many things. The hunter offered money in exchange for help in finding the heron's nest. Not only was his offer tempting and attractive, but a curiosity awakened in her as he was most attractive as well. She was somewhat intrigued and in a fog, taken each moment and each step one at a time, carefully, slowly. Sylvy seems to come to her senses in the twelfth hour when she climbs high into the trees early one morning to see the white heron fly in ever so close. It was as though their was a kinship between the two, an understanding. Because of this special feeling for the bird, Sylvy could not succumb to the hunter's desire for knowledge of the nest and never divulged the secret.