Essay on A White Heron as a Symbol of Purity

Our life experience proves the fact that some things in the world are more important than money. Our human values and moral principles can change our relation to those people who use money in order to achieve their goals which are not always generous. A short story A White Heron written by Sarah Jewett is one of the literary works which develops the theme of humanity and connection with nature. A white heron is not only a beautiful bird but also it is a part of nature. To kill this bird means to kill purity and beauty of nature.

The main character of the story is Sylvia, a girl of nine years old who came to her grandmother’s farm from a small industrious city. She was greatly impressed by the beauty of woods, fields, flowers and wild animals who became her friends. The author shows that it was a good change for Sylvia because she has never been alive before she came to live at the farm. (Jewett 133)
The author also shows her main character’s new feelings which are connected with new environment. She plays with her cow, listens to the birds’ songs, enjoys the beauty of the landscape. (Church)

The person who makes Sylvia taste a new feeling of love is a hunter, a rather handsome young man who came to these places to find and kill a white heron. The hunter has absolutely different values. Although he is a scientist he kills birds, the wonderful small creatures whose songs make the world better. He offers Sylvia ten dollars in exchange for the information concerning the location of the white heron. (Jewett 142)

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Sylvia needs money and even manages to get the requires information but she keeps silent. Sarah Jewett writes that Sylvie hears the murmur of the pine trees 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 139)

There are a great deal of different literary devices in the story A White Heron which are used by the author in order to develop the theme of the literary work in a proper way. Among them are various metaphors, colorful epithets, symbolism, rhetoric questions, repetitions and many others.

A White Heron is a symbol of purity of nature.
The tall trees in the wood stand for the emotional state and the thoughts of Sylvia.
The Hunter symbolizes selfishness and brutality as well as the urban life.
Geranium symbolizes Sylvia who belongs to nature.
The Name Sylvia stands for sylvan a spirit that lives in the woods.
The author uses exaggeration when Sylvia climbs the tree: There was a huge tree asleep yet in the paling moonlight and small and silly Sylvia began with utmost bravery to mount to the top of it.
Epithets and hyperbole: monstrous ladder, huge trees, vast and awesome world, wonderful sight, the great-red face boy, dull little life, determined and aggressive whistle, noisy and crowded town.
Metaphors: the tree seem to lengthen itself out; the woman’s heart, asleep in child was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love, shadows of the trees.
Comparison: her bare feet and fingers that pinched and held like a bird’s claws.
Rhetoric Question: What is it that suddenly forbids her and makes her dumb?

The authors shows two different worlds the rural world and the urban world in her story. The urban world is represented by the hunter who is in search of getting a white heron, a symbol of purity and the rural world is represented by a little girl Sylvia who is connected with nature and who protects the white heron. (Gale 41)

In conclusion of the essay, it is necessary to say that the author of the story wants to show the readers that true human values cannot be bought. Sylvia knows that if she tells the location of the white heron to the hunter, she will destroy both the bird’s life and her own life too. Although Sylvia is alone she understands that she is alone with nature. She is a part of nature and it’s her duty to protect nature. The woods, the fields, the trees, the flowers, the wild animals and birds are her true friends. She cannot betray them. Her human values has won the victory over her affection for the hunter and her desire to earn ten dollars.

Works Cited
Church, Joseph. Romantic Flight in Jewett’s White Heron. Studies in American Fiction. Northeastern University. 2002.
Gale, Robert. L. A Sarah Orne Jewett’ s White Heron London: Greenwood Press. 1999. Print.
Jewett, Sarah Orne. A White Heron. The Health Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1998. Print.

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