Symbolism In The White Heron

1052 Words5 Pages
A compelling narrative, painted and plastered with a rife amount of rich, vivid imagery in every page, “The White Heron” (1886) by Sarah Orne Jewett brings to life the adventures of Sylvia, a young girl “nine years growing” (Line 229), as she undergoes the metamorphic journey from being a young girl to a mature woman who is ready to take on the responsibilities of the outside world. With every segment of imagery present in the narrative, not only does Jewett cleverly inject in symbolic representations, but also allude to several other novels and short stories during her time. She predominantly utilizes specific symbols to connect with the main themes of freedom, racism, rape, trauma, identity, maturity, and strength. The story’s title itself…show more content…
However, Jewett does not apply the familiar racism between color and race; rather, she applies the racism between the male and female gender. Throughout the story, the male stranger chases Sylvia in pursuit for the white heron. How large the gap in gender racism zigzags during the story: she first fears the stranger by “not [daring] to look boldly at the tall young man,” (Line 53) then she feels that the stranger is a “friendly lad […] kind and sympathetic” (Line 129), then peaked at an acme when she describes him with “loving admiration […] charming and delightful; the women’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love.” (Lines 135–136) Mind you: the “loving admiration” Sylvia feels is not symbolic to that of sexual love, but it focuses on the romanticism period of the late 19th century, when authors emphasized on the identity and subjectivity of the main character. Soon, she realizes her awareness for the white heron and the stranger’s pursuit for it through the potent symbol expressed in only a short, declarative, simple sentence: “She forgot to think of sleep.” Just that one sentence already symbolizes her alertness and cautiousness, while providing imagery yet subtly displaying brevity. From that turning point, she…show more content…
For example, such symbols include freedom, racism, rape, trauma, identity, maturity, and strength. Because of this, Jewett presents an excellent paradigm of 19th century romanticism through a very subtle panegyric of her own feministic identity that will continue to live on the human mind for years to

More about Symbolism In The White Heron

Open Document