A White Heron and Other Stories

Regionalism and Symbolism in "A White Heron" 12th Grade

As the work of a regionalist writer, Jewett’s short story ‘A White Heron’ consists of symbols that reflect the impact which drastic changes in landscape have had on those who are sympathetic to nature, such as Jewett herself. Jewett’s first-hand experience of a small and remote region overtaken by industry has thus allowed her to produce a story which negatively represents industrialization. In ‘A White Heron’, Jewett conveys her message by using the young man – the bird hunter – to symbolize industry and Sylvia to symbolize nature.

It is not uncommon for literary pieces to portray nature with its bounty and beauty as a woman. For decades, the female gender has been perceived alongside and linked to that gentle, soothing gift which God has bestowed upon the world – a symbol of something that gives more than it receives, that feels compassion and mercy more than hatred and greed. Sylvia is the timid little girl who befriends the animals of the forest and becomes one with nature. While Sylvia lives her humble days quietly, her peace is suddenly intruded upon by a young man with a gun. He approaches kindly, and not long after makes a good companion out of Sylvia. Sylvia finds this intruder fascinating, and at one point even dreams...

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