He offers desperately needed money and also represents her first chance at friendship or romantic love. Most of the commentators on this story interpret it in exactly this way. In the second part of the hero’s story, the “Initiation,” the hero crosses a dangerous “threshold” into a strange, fluid, dreamlike world where he undergoes a succession of trials (Campbell, pp. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! In the late nineteenth century, one could easily imagine a girl living in rural isolation, seeing few people other than her grandmother, and one could guess at how exciting and confusing a visitor offering money might be. A spell to transform the dead into the great Benu-bird is elaborated in The Book of the Dead. The story presents a little girl whose world is entirely female. Not much is known about the young man, who, appropriately, is never named. What made you want to look up white heron? This early success led to what would be her true calling: writing honestly and simply about the richness and poignancy of the common folk of Maine. Legends in China tell us that Heron guides souls to heaven safely. However, when the two go out together, the young man leads the way. Equally important for Jewett, women were beginning to enjoy a wider range of “acceptable” personal lifestyles. And she has seen “the vast and awesome world” without anyone’s help. The climax of these trials is the hero’s victory over all opposition. It was like a great mainmast to the voyaging earth; it must have been truly amazed that morning through all its ponderous frame as it felt this determined spark of human spirit creeping and climbing from higher branch to branch. As I return to the beach, again and again. When Sylvia rejects the hunter, whom she perceives as a suitor, she is claiming her independence from male-dominated society, just as Jewett and many of her contemporaries were able to do. Indeed, Sylvia’s grandmother is converted. She speaks from a wisdom greater than that possessed by the reader or any character in the tale. 21, no. Twayne, 1962. From the beginning, her focus was on lonely, misunderstood people, particularly women, and their relationships; her stories often have little in the way of exciting or dramatic plot and action but are nonetheless powerfully moving. 19, No. And now let us imagine that into this web—into this timeless cycle of birds and waves—walks a man with a gun. Looked at realistically, this love motif makes little sense. He is surprised to see how clean and cozy the homestead is, delights in his simple meal, and sits on the doorstep listening to the grandmother chatter about her home and family. Symbolic Meaning of the Heron. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Jewett wrote several stories and novels about women doctors—impossible at an earlier time. As the sun sets, nine-year-old Sylvia drives home a cow, her “valued companion.” The child has no other playmates, and enjoys these evening walks with the cow, Mistress Moolly, and the hide-and-seek games the cow plays to escape being caught. Over the past century critics have explored themes of good versus evil, flesh versus spirit, nature versus civilization, feminine versus masculine world view, and innocence versus experience in “A White Heron.” Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, another well-regarded nineteenth-century New England writer, praised the story. ► It symbolizes longevity, purity, and good fortune. What is remarkable about “A White Heron” is how well it has spoken to readers of different generations. He is so eager to collect a white heron that he offers Sylvia ten dollars (a sum that means little to him but a great deal to her) if she will lead him to the bird. By sparing the white heron, Jewett suggests the value inherent to keeping nature pure and separate from human violence and intervention. Jewett was fond of the same kind of fantasy literature on which Campbell bases his archetype. She wrote novels in addition to short stories but they were not as successful, with the exception of her greatest work, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), a series of sketches about the residents of a fictional coastal village. Jewett’s great talent was in creating characters and relationships so rich that they have touched readers’ hearts and minds for over a century. Habitat can be telling, but pay special attention to feeding postures and technique, and the manner of movement. . noun 1. slang for heroin. Without a doubt, the heron is a supreme hunter. Rare in New Zealand, with a population of just 100–120 birds, the elegant white heron or kōtuku (Ardea modesta) is nevertheless common in India, Japan, China and Australia, where it is known as the great egret.With a long, slender neck, yellow bill and thin legs, white herons grow to 92 centimetres in length and 900 grams in weight. The story now no longer seems to be merely about a choice between nature and someone who would destroy it but between “love”—a woman’s love for a man—and loyalty to something else, something that inevitably leads to loneliness and isolation. 6-16. “A White Heron” is the story of Sylvia, a nine-year-old girl, who goes in quest of an exotic, almost miraculous bird. Before Sylvia can move from innocence to maturity, or from common mortal to hero, she must undergo a ritual test to prove her worthiness and strength. XXII, No. Source: Michael Atkinson, “The Necessary Extravagance of Sarah Orne Jewett: Voices of Authority in ‘A White Heron’,” in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. Bring your gifts and graces and tell your secrets to this lonely country child!” The hushed and urgent whisper of this conspiracy of wisdom confirms for us the value of Sylvia’s experience and her decision not to tell of the white heron, transferring maturity from the social back to the natural realm—profounder, deeper, never to be betrayed. She will not—or cannot—integrate it with the materialistic world beyond the forest that now beckons to her. . They were going away from whatever light there was, and striking deep into the lot, but their tires were familiar with the path, and it was no matter whether their eyes could see it or not. Author Biography Smith, Gayle L. “The Language of Transcendence in Sarah Orne Jewett’s ‘A White Heron.’” Colby Library Quarterly, Vol. . Criticism Perhaps the most obvious meaning of “A White Heron” comes from the female creation, or recreation, myth Jewett offers. But Sylvia is not. A direct address to “woodlands and summer-time” seems quaint to modern readers, but Jewett leads up to it by increasing the narrator’s and the reader’s involvement throughout the second half of the story. . So Sylvia makes her choice. Although born and raised in the city, her true home is in the forest (even her name is from the Latin for “wood”). Sylvia’s parents and siblings live in a “crowded manufacturing town” from which Mrs. Tilley rescued Sylvia a year before, and Sylvia has known from the day she arrived on the farm that “she never should wish to go home.” Whatever men were once on the farm have wandered off or died. Delivered to your inbox! Heron (Leviticus 11:19; 14:18) a common large, wading, unclean bird.Nearly all of the species known in English ornithology are found in the vicinity of Palestine. Forests were being cut down at an alarming rate, bolstered by the Timber Culture Act of 1878 which permitted the clearing of public lands. Pool, Eugene Hillhouse. The heron is shrewd, intelligent, resourceful and also very determined. Sylvia, a shy nine-year-old, is bringing home the milk cow when she meets a young ornithologist who is hunting birds for his collection of specimens. The matter of shifts in narrative stance has likewise been controversial. Often he receives supernatural aid from a “protective figure” who helps him in his adventures (Campbell, p. 69). Jewett often accompanied her father on his rounds and loved to hear him talk about books and ideas. “There ain’t a foot o’ ground she don’t know her way over,” her grand-mother says, “and the wild creatures counts her one o’ themselves. No brother, father, uncle, or grandfather lives in it; the men have feuded and left or died. 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