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The White Heron

Decent Essays
Discussion Questions on “The White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett

1. Think about the men, apart from the hunter, mentioned in the story? How are they characterized? Is the absence of men from Sylvia’s world (up until the arrival of the hunter) a significant factor in the story?
Prior to meeting the hunter, it appears Sylvia was bullied/picked on by a boy who used to “frighten” her. We also don’t learn anything about her father, but I can infer that it wasn’t a complete loving relationship since he was not mentioned. I personally don’t believe the absence of men was a significant factor, rather the absence of human companionship besides her grandmother was a significant factor. The presence of the hunter shows Sylvia desires human companionship,
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In the beginning of the short story, we learn about Sylvia’s love for nature. Nature gave her a sense of utility the crowded manufacturing town could not offer. When she was walking home with Mistress Moolly, the cow, they encountered a deserted cat that came to greet them. She whispered to the cat saying, “This is a beautiful place to live in, and she never should wish to go home” (Page 527, para 3). As Sylvia grows closer to the stranger she is in an inner-conflict with the emotions of greed and her love of nature. The monetary reward in revealing the heron’s location gives Sylvia a temporary thrill, as we learn from the use of third-person-limited point of view, “No amount of thought, that night, could decide how many wished-for treasures the ten dollars, so lightly spoken of, would buy” (Page 530, para 1). However, the story concludes in a “relieving manner” for the reader. Although, we do not know if the hunter found the bird later on, the reader becomes alleviated by the fact the endangered bird was not revealed at that moment. Regardless of the monetary reward, Sylvia will not betray her values about the love for nature of which she shares with the white heron. I believe “The White Heron” is an example of romanticism due to the Sylvia’s connection with nature. Sylvia’s is described as an animal of nature when her grandmother states, “There ain’t a foot o’ ground she don’t know her way over, and the wild creaturs counts
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