The White Heron is a spiritual story portraying great refinement and concerns with higher things in life. A 9 year old girl once isolated in the city found fulfillment in a farm surrounded by nature. Too those less unfortunate, money charm and other attractions can be intoxicated; Sylvia did not bite. She could have helped her situation and found a way to wealth but in the end she realized that it wouldn’t help her to be the person she wanted to be.This paper will illustrate a critical analysis of the story of White Heron and focus on the relationship between the literary elements of the story, plot, characterization, style, symbolism and women’s concerns that are specific to this period. Plot Sylvia was a 9 year old “nature girl” who met a charming ornithologist hunter on a mission to find the allusive white heron.
Sylvia was about 8 years old when she moved with her grandmother from the city to a farm, “a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm.” (Jewett, 1884, 1914, qtd in McQuade, et. al., 1999, p. 1641).
Sylvia finds the secret, the white heron. Instead of telling the youn...
g hunter, she keeps the secret, because in her mind nature is more powerful than her feelings for “the enemy. ”Sylvia, not yet a woman, is at the threshold of womanly changes. As a child she has no “need” yet for a man. She has been taken out of the city into the backwoods where she has no need for societal norms and she is still developing (in all sense, as a female and as a person).
Along comes a young, handsome, genteel, rich, ornithologist, hunter and she feels drawn to him, to his charm, to his wealth and kindness. As she is developing, she is tantalized by the societal norms he represents. She is ready to give up the backwoods (a symbol of herself) for all he (a symbol of society) has to offer.Convinced of that, she sets off to find the secret of the elusive white heron and in order to find the heron, she had to climb to what was literally the top of the world for her, the top of the pine tree. The world from the top was different than the city and it was different from the woods at ground level. From the top her perspective about the world changed, it was vast and awesome, and she understood her place in it more than before.
She understood it to mean more than to sacrifice her own self for the gifts this man had to offer that were tantalizing but incapitable with her personality and true self.Characterization The motive behind the hunter is he wants to shoot birds, study them and stuff them.
QUOTE. The young hunter is not a bad person except he kills birds. Interesting he does not see the irony that h
likes birds so much that he kills them.
Sylvia is a young but matured 9 year old not conflicted between leaving the city and coming to a rural area but conflicted between nature and a charming young man although in the end Sylvia stays true to her own self. Style Jewett’s style mixes regionalism and dialect which gives the reader a sense of being in the places she talks about.From the beginning of the story the author describes each scene with detail “the woods were already filled with shadows…though a bright sunset still glimmered faintly among the trunks of the tree…” (Jewett, 1884, 1914, qtd in McQuade, et. al., 1999, p. 1640). To the end of the story with the Jewett’s wonderful description of Sylvia’s reactions and how she felt when she climbed the to the top of the pine tree. Jewett says “Sylvia’s face was like a ;ale star…” expressing the shock of Sylvia when she climbed to the top of the pine tree.It was as if Sylvia had just stopped, shut down, and enjoyed the moment of a wonderful world and its scenery. Jewett uses narrative with dialog and 3rd person writing events using dialog.
Narrative veers towards Sylvia’s conscious like the author telling the character Sylvia what to do. When Sylvia is at the top of the pine tree, is as if the author is speaking to her, “now look down again, Sylvia, where the green marsh is set among the shining birches and dark hemlocks; there where you saw the white heron …” (Jewett, 1884, 1914, qtd in McQuade, et. l. , 1999, p. 1645).
Jewett continues to tell Sylvia, “…wait! wait! do not move a foot or a finger, little girl, do not send an arrow of light and consciousness from your two eager eyes, for the heron has perched on a pine bough not far beyond yours…” (Jewett, 1884, 1914, qtd in McQuade, et. al. , 1999, p. 1645).
Jewett guides Sylvia as if she is her conscious and tells her the white heron is nearby. Symbolism Sylvia is a nine year old not yet a woman who is developing.Like the women of the day, and the women’s movement of the day, not yet grownup, still figuring out who they should be (women couldn’t vote, expected to marry, expected to raise family, outside work and education were considered irresponsible and many wanted to change that). The young handsome enemy bird killer is a symbol of “men” in all their societal forms and norms, handsome, tantalizing, charming, the enemy, educated, scientist, rich and acceptable.The grandmother is a plain speaking backwoods poor woman who represents that “class” of person is still a person, still a human being. The backwoods, rural country, not the city, the anti-industrial place, the world was fascinated.
With the new industrial world and the new rich it created, the country and farm illustrated that there were still other parts of the world that had meaning away from societal norms, manufacturing and money, where a little girl could go to discover herself and her value in the world.The pine tree, the struggle to climb the tree, is the
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