Discussion Questions 1. The word sylvan means “of the woods”. Does this suggest anything about the main character Sylvia? Compare Sylvia’s attitude toward nature and that of the young man. Support your opinions with relevant evidence from the story. 2. Analyze Sylvia’s inner conflict and the way she resolves it. Why do you think she eventually able to make such a decision? If you were her, what would you do? 3. Pick out at least THREE examples of symbolism that you find most significant in the story and try to interpret them in relation to the theme.
How do you know these are symbols? Why do you choose these symbols in preference to others? 4. Compare the hunter with the pot mender in “The Chrysanthemums”. Why are they both unnamed? 5. Comment on the following extracts, paying attention to the underlined expressions: o‘Sylvia would have liked him vastly better without his gun; she could not understand why he killed the very birds he seemed to like so much. But as the day waned, Sylvia still watched the young man with loving admiration.
She had never seen anybody so charming and delightful; the woman’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love. ’ (par. 26) o‘And 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, and cries back to his mate on the nest and plumes his feathers for the new day! ’ (par. 35) o‘Dear loyalty, that suffered a sharp pang as the guest went away disappointed later in the day, that could have served and followed him as a dog loves!
Many a night Sylvia heard the echo of his whistle haunting the pasture path as she came home with the loitereing cow. She forgot even her sorrow at the sharp report of his gun and the sight of thrushes and sparrows dropping silent to the ground, their songs hushed and their pretty feathers stained and wet with blood. Were the birds better friends than the hunter might have been,–who can tell? Whatever treasures were lost to her, woodlands and summer-time remember! Bring your gifts and graces and tell your secrets to this lonely country child! ’ (par. 40)