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A White Heron Research Papers

How do you start a A White Heron research paper? Our expert writers suggest like this: 

Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron” is a short but powerful story of a young girl and a decision she must make.  A White HeronIn it’s brevity, Jewett weaves a tale of freedom.  Both the young girl (Sylvia) and the White Heron are kindred, endangered creatures set free in the wilderness.  When Sylvia discovers the heron’s secret, she is meeting herself and her seemingly painful decision is inevitable.

The main characters of Jewett's story are:

  • Sylvia
  • Mistress Molly
  • Mrs. Tilly

Life Choices of Women

The White Heron is an analogy for the life choices that women face.  A young girl is tempted by love and offered the chance at a life foreign to her: yet one that feels natural and inevitable.  It is a feminist look at marriage and single life from a time when choosing to remain single was revolutionary.

Sarah Orne Jewett's short story "A White Heron" is a story of a young girl who goes to live with her grandmother and adopts a love for country life and the animals that reside on the farm.

Jewett begins the novel with Sylvia, who is nine years old and living in the woods of New England with her grandmother, Mrs. Tilley. Sylvia learns to become a country girl by helping her grandmother with farm chores and finding Mistress Molly, the cow that continues to graze away from home.

Jewett injects another character into the storyline. He is a hunter, looking for birds to include as a part of his collection. He is searching for a white heron. He offers a reward to Sylvia if she finds the bird. Sylvia locates the bird but is torn between the hunter's need and her love for animals. She decides not to tell him where the bird is because she doesn't want to play any part in its death. However, Jewett ends the work with her central character regretting her decision.

In your research paper, be sure to make an argument for why Sylvia should not regret her decision. Use quotes and specific examples from the text.

True Child of Nature

The tale opens with young Sylvia looking for the cow, a nightly game of bovine hide and seek.  From the beginning, the reader is shown that Sylvia is a true child of nature.  “There never was such a child for straying out-of-doors since the world was made,” her grandmother says.  The grandmother, Mrs. Tilley, at one previous point had taken the child out of the city and brought her to live on the farm.  “It seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm”.

While choices in life are seldom as dramatic as one’s eyes burning with anguish and anger, the stories illustrate very real emotions that accompany difficult decisions. It’s curious how life’s decisions are also relative to society, not matter how free from other’s opinions one feels. In Jewitt’s story, the encounter at the top of the pine tree is the pivotal moment in the story.  The young man and his ten dollars have tempted Sylvia, the innocent child of nature.  In many ways, he is representative of the city from which she was plucked.  He studies rare birds by killing and stuffing them, and not by studying them in their native environment.  When she was in the city, Sylvia was a stuffed bird—stifled and in a foreign environment.

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