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Sarah Orne Jewett ?A White Heron ?

There were two similar, but different people that crossed each other’s path one night. They would find how important a friendship would be, if put on the line for one’s life. Sylvia would have to make a decision that would define everything she stood for in her life.

” The woods were already filled with shadows one June evening, just before eight o’clock, though a bright sunset still glimmered faintly among the trunks of the trees. A little girl was driving home her cow, a plodding, dilatory, provoking creature in her behavior, but a valued companion for all that. They were going away from the western light, and striking deep into the dark woods, but their feet were familiar with the path, and it was no matter whether their eyes could see it or not”(Jewett 744).

The two of them continued their journey home. Along the way they heard a sound coming from the bushes. They turned around and saw a hunter carrying his gun on his shoulder. The hunter spoke to her, “I have been hunting for some birds and I have lost my way, and need a friend very much” (Jewett 745). They introduced themselves and from that moment on they became good friends. They found that they both had a love for birds, but in very different ways. “All day long he did not once make her troubled or afraid except when he brought down some unsuspecting singing creature from its bough. Sylvia would have vastly liked him 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” (Jewett 747). The hunter is a very important character in this story. He is the antagonist of the story that gives Sylvia a great deal of pressure to deal with. Even though he does not intend to push her away he does. Sylvia finds it within herself to push aside all the pressures and decides to follow her heart. Sylvia was determined to find the heron before the hunter did. She went just before dawn and found herself at the bottom of an old tall tree. She hoped that from the top she would see the heron. When she did reach the top of the tree, it was to her surprise to see the heron revealed by the sun. At that point, she found the heron’s secret place and shortly after she had found the answer to her problems. She finds that by striving to be who she really is she makes the best decision of her life. That decision would define her for the rest of her life.

“The grandmother and the sportsman stand in the door together and question her, and the splendid moment has come to speak of the dead hemlock-tree by the green marsh. But Sylvia does not speak after all, though the old grandmother fretfully rebukes her, and the young man’s kind appealing eyes are looking straight in her own. He can make them rich with money; he has promised it, and they are poor now. He is so well worth making happy, and he waits to hear the story she can tell. No, she must keep silence! What is it that suddenly forbids her and makes her dumb? Has she been nine years growing, and now, when the great world for the first time puts out a hand to her, must she thrust it aside for a bird’s sake? The murmur of the pine’s green branches in her ears, she remembers how the white heron came flying through the golden air and how they watched the sea and the morning together, and Sylvia cannot speak; she cannot tell the heron’s secret and give its life away” (Jewett 750).

Sylvia possessed a love both for the young hunter and the rare White Heron. However, in the end her love for nature succeeded her love for the hunter.


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