A White Heron and Other Stories

Reading Questions- A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett

Explain the effect the hunter has on Sylvia.

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The ‘young sportsman’ bewitches Sylvia and presents her with a jack-knife as a gift, ‘which she thought as great a treasure as if she were a desert-islander.’ The knife is symbolic of him attempting to get her to understand and accept his destructive ways.

We witness the first stirrings of attraction in Sylvia as she is drawn to the young man-

‘…the woman’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love.’ Sylvia wanders the woods with the stranger, in a way strangely reminiscent of her namesake from Shakespeare’s Two Gentleman of Verona (1594). In Shakespeare’s play, Sylvia is in love with Valentine and follows him relentlessly. In ‘A White Heron’, Sylvia has been asked to guide the stranger to the heron, yet, she remains under his control-