Sylvia In A White Heron

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Love in the Forest “A little girl was driving home her cow, a plodding, dilatory, provoking creature in her behavior, but a valued companion at that” (Jewett). Sylvia’s attentiveness to the wellbeing of the cow speaks to her care for animals; the creatures of the forest trust her and come to eat food from her hands. Cruelly, an intrusion into the way of life that Sylvia has made for herself tests her connection and dedication to the natural world. In Sara Orne Jewett’s short story “A White Heron,” Sylvia, the main protagonist, makes a journey of self-discovery upon the arrival of an ornithologist. This romantic tale features natural and unnatural settings prominently while delving into Sylvia’s emotions as she wrestles with indecision. …show more content…

“Suddenly, this little woods-girl is horror-stricken to hear a clear whistle not very far away” (Jewett). The stranger, who carries a gun and professes himself to murdering the animals that Sylvia holds dear demands the location of “the white heron” and promises “ten dollars to anybody who could show it” to him (Jewett). Sylvia, who has always lived a humble life, dreams of what riches the ten dollars could buy, but acknowledges the high price paid in love. As the stranger lingers, he gives Sylvia little gifts, ensnaring her in his manipulative trap like one of his birds. Paralyzed with indecision, Sylvia faces a choice between the life that she has come to love and the seductive words and promises of a stranger who would destroy it. The indecision that Sylvia faces soon consumes her waking and sleeping hours, and she forms a resolution: to seek the heron’s nest and come to a conclusion. “Now she thought of the tree with a new excitement, for why, if one climbed it at the break of day, could not one see all the world and easily discover from whence the white heron flew, and mark the place, and find the hidden nest?” (Jewett). Climbing the tree, Sylvia discovers the white heron’s secret; she watches as the bird “floats and wavers, and goes back like an arrow presently to his home in the green world beneath” (Jewett). Sylvia’s journey to the top of the tall pine tree reveals to her the location of the heron’s nest, putting the bird unknowingly in peril and the gravity of her upcoming decision. As she watches the white heron swoop to and from its nest, the bird reminds her of the joy of nature and the pitiful existence without it. Emboldened by her fortified conclusion, Sylvia descends from the wrestling pine boughs and shields the heron from the stranger with the strength of her silence, giving up

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