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point Times New Roman font, using MLA style and format.The short paper is going to be about the story “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett after reading the story it has to be explained and proved why this story is realism or naturalism. For a

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Jewett’s death in 1909. During the winter months, Jewett lived at Fields’s house in
Boston and in the spring and summer was often to be found at Fields’s oceanside
home a few miles north of Boston in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Jewett maintained her
residence in South Berwick, and she and Fields would spend time together there as
well. Their relationship, common at the turn of the century among single women
who lived and traveled together, was often called a “Boston marriage.” Scholars inter-
ested in the nineteenth-century history of same-sex desire have frequently turned
both to Jewett’s biography and to her fiction, where deep, emotionally complicated
attachments between women figure prominently.
Jewett reached artistic maturity with the publication of A White Heron and Other
Stories in 1886; later collections of sketches and stories include The King of Folly
Island (1888), A Native of Winby (1893), and The Life of Nancy (1895). In these works
the local landscape, people, and dialect are recorded with understanding and sym-
pathy. In “A White Heron,” reprinted here, a young girl’s conflicted loyalties to her
conception of herself in nature and to the world of men she will soon encounter are
memorably and sensitively drawn. Long-time residents of these small Maine com-
munities make up the bulk of Jewett’s fiction, including her most enduring work,
The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896). This book is comprised of a series of linked
sketches filtered through the consciousness of a summer visitor, much like the per-
son Jewett had become. In this work, bits and pieces of the lives of a small group
men and women are quilted into a unified impression of life in a once-prosperous
shipping village. The strong older women who survive in the region form a female
community that, for many critics, is a hallmark of New England regionalism. The
chapters of the book reproduced here introduce the summer visitor and the com-
munity of Dunnet Landing—as well as its history of maritime activity through the
figure of Captain Littlepage. The book was well received, and Jewett would go on
to publish four additional stories set in Dunnet Landing. Before her death in 1909,
Jewett met the admiring Willa Cather, who would celebrate and edit Jewett’s work
in the decades to come. For Cather, The Country of the Pointed Firs ranked with
The Scarlet Letter and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a landmark of American
call Co’! Co’! with never an answering Moo, until her childish patience was
quite spent. If the creature had not given good milk and plenty of it, the
case would have seemed very different to her owners. Besides, Sylvia had
all the time there was, and very little use to make of it. Sometimes in pleas-
ant weather it was a consolation to look upon the cow’s pranks as an intel-
ligent attempt to play hide and seek, and as the child had no playmates she
lent herself to this amusement with a good deal of zest. Though this chase
had been so long that the wary animal herself had given an unusual signal
of her whereabouts, Sylvia had only laughed when she came upon Mistress
Moolly at the swamp-side, and urged her affectionately homeward with a
twig of birch leaves. The old cow was not inclined to wander farther, she
even turned in the right direction for once as they left the pasture, and
stepped along the road at a good pace. She was quite ready to be milked now,
and seldom stopped to browse. Sylvia wondered what her grandmother would
say because they were so late. It was a great while since she had left home
at half past five o’clock, but everybody knew the difficulty of making this
errand a short one. Mrs. Tilley had chased the hornéd torment too many
summer evenings herself to blame any one else for lingering, and was only
thankful as she waited that she had Sylvia, nowadays, to give such valuable
assistance. The good woman suspected that Sylvia loitered occasionally on
her own account; there never was such a child for straying about out-of-doors
since the world was made! Everybody said that it was a good change for a
little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufactur-
ing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she never had been alive
at all before she came to live at the farm. She thought often with wistful
compassion of a wretched geranium that belonged to a town neighbor.
“Afraid of folks,’” old Mrs. Tilley said to herself, with a smile, after she
had made the unlikely choice of Sylvia from her daughter’s houseful of
children, and was returning to the farm. “Afraid of folks,’ they said! I guess
she won’t be troubled no great with ’em up to the old place!” When they
reached the door of the lonely house and stopped to unlock it, and the cat
came to purr loudly, and rub against them, a deserted pussy, indeed, but fat
with young robins, Sylvia whispered that this was a beautiful place to live
in, and she never should wish to go home.
A White Heron?
The woods were already filled with shadows one June evening, just before
eight o’clock, though a bright sunset still glimmered faintly among the
trunks of the trees. A little girl was driving home her cow, a plodding,
dilatory, provoking creature in her behavior, but a valued companion for
all that. They were going away from whatever light there was, and striking
deep into the woods, but their feet were familiar with the path, and it was
no matter whether their eyes could see it or not.
There was hardly a night the summer through when the old cow could be
found waiting at the pasture bars; on the contrary, it was her greatest plea-
sure to hide herself away among the high huckleberry bushes, and though
she wore a loud bell she had made the discovery that if one stood perfectly
still it would not ring. So Sylvia had to hunt for her until she found her, and
The companions followed the shady woodroad, the cow taking slow steps,
and the child
very fast ones. The cow stopped long at the brook to drink, as
if the pasture were not half a swamp, and Sylvia stood still and waited, let-
ting her bare feet cool themselves in the shoal water, while the great twi-
light moths struck softly against her. She waded on through the brook as
the cow moved away, and listened to the thrushes with a heart that beat fast
with pleasure. There was a stirring in the great boughs overhead. They were
full of little birds and beasts that seemed to be wide awake, and going about
their world, or else saying good-night to each other in sleepy twitters. Sylvia
herself felt sleepy as she walked along. However, it was not much farther to
the house, and the air was soft and sweet. She was not often in the woods
so late as this, and it made her feel as if she were a part of the gray shadows
and the moving leaves. She was just thinking how long it seemed since she
first came to the farm a year ago, and wondering if everything went on in
the noisy town just the same as when she was there; the thought of the great
1. First published in book form in A White Heron and Other Stories (1886), the source of the text printed
insisted that this was the best supper he had eaten for a month, and after-
ward the new-made friends sat down in the door-way together while the
moon came up.
Soon it would be berry-time, and Sylvia was a great help at picking. The
cow was a good milker, though a plaguy thing to keep track of, the hostess
gossiped frankly, adding presently that she had buried four children, so
Sylvia’s mother, and a son (who might be dead) in California were all the
children she had left. “Dan, my boy, was a great hand to go gunning,” she
explained sadly. “I never wanted for pa’tridges or gray squer’ls while he was
to home. He’s been a great wand’rer, I expect, and he’s no hand to write let-
ters. There, I don’t blame him, I’d ha’ seen the world myself if it had been
so I could.
“Sylvia takes after him,” the grandmother continued affectionately, after
a minute’s
pause. “There ain’t a foot o’ ground she don’t know her way over,
and the wild creaturs counts her one o’ themselves. Squer’ls she’ll tame to
come an’ feed right out o’ her hands, and all sorts o’ birds. Last winter she
got the jay-birds to bangeing here, and I believe she’d ‘a’ scanted herself of
her own meals to have plenty to throw out amongst ’em, if I hadn’t kep’ watch.
Anything but crows, I tell her, I’m willin’ to help support—though Dan he
had a tamed one o’ them that did seem to have reason same as folks. It was
round here a good spell after he went away. Dan an’ his father they didn’t
hitch,—but he never held up his head ag’in after Dan had dared him an’
gone off.”
red-faced boy who used to chase and frighten her made her hurry along the
path to escape from the shadow of the trees.
Suddenly this little woods-girl is horror-stricken to hear a clear whistle
not very far away. Not a bird’s whistle, which would have a sort of friendli-
ness, but a boy’s whistle, determined, and somewhat aggressive. Sylvia left
the cow to whatever sad fate might await her, and stepped discreetly aside
into the bushes, but she was just too late. The enemy had discovered her,
and called out in a very cheerful and persuasive tone, “Halloa, little girl,
how far is it to the road?” and trembling Sylvia answered almost inaudibly,
“A good ways.”
She did not dare to look boldly at the tall young man, who carried a gun
over his shoulder, but she came out of her bush and again followed the cow,
while he walked alongside.
“I have been hunting for some birds,” the stranger said kindly, “and I have
lost my way, and need a friend very much. Don’t be afraid,” he added gal-
lantly. “Speak up and tell me what your name is, and whether you think I can
spend the night at your house, and go out gunning early in the morning.”
Sylvia was more alarmed than before. Would not her grandmother con-
sider her much to blame? But who could have foreseen such an accident as
this? It did not seem to be her fault, and she hung her head as if the stem of
it were broken, but managed to answer “Sylvy,” with much effort when her
companion again asked her name.
Mrs. Tilley was standing in the doorway when the trio came into view.
The cow gave a loud moo by way of explanation.
“Yes, you’d better speak up for yourself, you old trial! Where’d she tucked
herself away this time, Sylvy?” But Sylvia kept an awed silence; she knew by
instinct that her grandmother did not comprehend the gravity of the situa-
tion. She must be mistaking the stranger for one of the farmer-lads of the
The young man stood his gun beside the door, and dropped a lumpy
game-bag beside it; then he bade Mrs. Tilley good-evening, and repeated
his wayfarer’s story, and asked if he could have a night’s lodging.
“Put me anywhere you like,” he said. “I must be off early in the morning,
before day; but I am very hungry, indeed. You can give me some milk at any
rate, that’s plain.”
“Dear sakes, yes,” responded the hostess, whose long slumbering hospi-
tality seemed to be easily awakened. “You might fare better if you went out
to the main road a mile or so, but you’re welcome to what we’ve got. I’ll milk
right off, and you make yourself at home. You can sleep on husks or feath-
ers,” she proffered graciously. “I raised them all myself. There’s good pas-
turing for geese just below here towards the ma’sh. Now step round and set
a plate for the gentleman, Sylvy!” And Sylvia promptly stepped. She was glad
to have something to do, and she was hungry herself.
It was a surprise to find so clean and comfortable a little dwelling in this
New England wilderness. The young man had known the horrors of its most
primitive housekeeping, and the dreary squalor of that level of society which
does not rebel at the companionship of hens. This was the best thrift of an
old-fashioned farmstead, though on such a small scale that it seemed like a
hermitage. He listened eagerly to the old woman’s quaint talk, he watched
Sylvia’s pale face and shining gray eyes with ever growing enthusiasm, and
The guest did not notice this hint of family sorrows in his eager
in something else.
“So Sylvy knows all about birds, does she?” he exclaimed, as he looked
round at the little girl who sat, very demure but increasingly sleepy, in the
moonlight. “I am making a collection of birds myself. I have been at it ever
since I was a boy.” (Mrs. Tilley smiled.) “There are two or three very rare
ones I have been hunting for these five years. I mean to get them on my own
ground if they can be found.”
“Do you cage ’em up?” asked Mrs. Tilley doubtfully, in response to this
enthusiastic announcement.
“Oh, no, they’re stuffed and preserved, dozens and dozens of them,” said
the ornithologist, “and I have shot or snared every one myself. I caught a
glimpse of a white heron three miles from here on Saturday, and I have fol-
lowed it in this direction. They have never been found in this district at all.3
The little white heron, it is,” and he turned again to look at Sylvia with the
hope of discovering that the rare bird was one of her acquaintances.
But Sylvia was watching a hop-toad in the narrow footpath.
“You would know the heron if you saw it,” the stranger continued eagerly.
tall white bird with soft feathers and long thin legs. And it would
have a nest perhaps in the top of a high tree, made of sticks, something like
a hawk’s nest.”
Sylvia’s heart gave a wild beat; she knew that strange white bird, and had
once stolen softly near where it stood in some bright green swamp grass,
away over at the other side of the woods. There was an open place where
“A queer
2. Hanging around.
3. Several species of herons were endangered
during Jewett’s time because hat-makers sought
their dramatic wing feathers.
the sunshine always seemed strangely yellow and hot, where tall, nodding
grew, and her grandmother had warned her that she might sink in
the soft black mud underneath and never be heard of more. Not far beyond
were the salt marshes just this side the sea itself, which Sylvia wondered and
dreamed about, but never had seen, whose great voice could sometimes be
heard above the noise of the woods on stormy nights.
“I can’t think of anything I should like so much as to find that heron’s
nest,” the handsome stranger was saying. “I would give ten dollars to any-
body who could show it to me,” he added desperately, “and I mean to spend
my whole vacation hunting for it if need be. Perhaps it was only migrating,
or had been chased out of its own region by some bird of prey.”
Mrs. Tilley gave amazed attention to all this, but Sylvia still watched the
toad, not divining, as she might have done at some calmer time, that the
creature wished to get to its hole under the door-step, and was much hin-
dered by the unusual spectators at that hour of the evening. No amount of
thought, that night, could decide how many wished-for treasures the ten
dollars, so lightly spoken of, would buy.
The next day the young sportsman hovered about the woods, and Sylvia
kept him company, having lost her first fear of the friendly lad, who proved
to be most kind and sympathetic. He told her many things about the birds
and what they knew and where they lived and what they did with themselves.
And he gave her a jack-knife, which she thought as great a treasure as if she
were a desert-islander. All day long he did not once make her troubled or
afraid except when he brought down some unsuspecting singing creature
from its bough. Sylvia would have liked him vastly better without his gun;
she could not understand why he killed the very birds he seemed to like so
much. But as the day waned, Sylvia still watched the young man with loving
admiration. She had never seen anybody so charming and delightful; the
woman’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love.
Some premonition of that great power stirred and swayed these young crea-
tures who traversed the solemn woodlands with soft-footed silent care. They
stopped to listed to a bird’s song; they pressed forward again eagerly, part-
ing the branches,-speaking to each other rarely and in whispers; the young
man going first and Sylvia following, fascinated, a few steps behind, with
her gray eyes dark with excitement.
She grieved because the longed-for white heron was elusive, but she did
not lead the guest, she only followed, and there was no such thing as speak-
ing first. The sound of her own unquestioned voice would have terrified
her, it was hard enough to answer yes or no when there was need of that.
At last evening began to fall, and they drove the cow home together, and
Sylvia smiled with pleasure when they came to the place where she heard
the whistle and was afraid only the night before.
whole forest of sturdy trees, pines and oaks and maples, had grown again.
But the stately head of this old pine towered above them all and made a land-
mark for sea and shore miles and miles away. Sylvia knew it well. She had
always believed that whoever climbed to the top of it could see the ocean;
and the little girl had often laid her hand on the great rough trunk and looked
up wistfully at those dark boughs that the wind always stirred, no matter
how hot and still the air might be below. Now she thought of the tree with
a new excitement, for why, if one climbed it at break of day, could not one
see all the world, and easily discover from whence the white heron flew, and
mark the place, and find the hidden nest?
What a spirit of adventure, what wild ambition! What fancied triumph and
delight and glory for the later morning when she could make known the
secret! It was almost too real and too great for the childish heart to bear.
All night the door of the little house stood open and the whippoorwills
came and sang upon the very step. The young sportsman and his old host-
ess were sound asleep, but Sylvia’s great design kept her broad awake and
watching. She forgot to think of sleep. The short summer night seemed as
long as the winter darkness, and at last when the whippoorwills ceased, and
she was afraid the morning would after all come too soon, she stole out of
the house and followed the pasture path through the woods, hastening
toward the open ground beyond, listening with a sense of comfort and com-
panionship to the drowsy twitter of a half-awakened bird, whose perch she
had jarred in passing. Alas, if the great wave of human interest which flooded
for the first time this dull little life should sweep away the satisfactions of
an existence heart to heart with nature and the dumb life of the forest!
There was the huge tree asleep yet in the paling moonlight, and small and
silly Sylvia began with utmost bravery to mount to the top of it, with tin-
gling, eager blood coursing the channels of her whole frame, with her bare
feet and fingers, that pinched and held like bird’s claws to the monstrous
ladder reaching up, up, almost to the sky itself. First she must mount the
white oak tree that grew alongside, where she was almost lost among
dark branches and the green leaves heavy and wet with dew; a bird fluttered
off its nest, and a red squirrel ran to and fro and scolded pettishly at the
harmless housebreaker. Sylvia felt her way easily. She had often climbed
there, and knew that higher still one of the oak’s upper branches chafed
against the pine trunk, just where its lower boughs were set close together.
There, when she made the dangerous pass from one tree to the other, the
great enterprise would really begin.
She crept out along the swaying oak limb at last, and took the daring step
across into the old pine-tree. The way was harder than she thought; she must
reach far and hold fast, the sharp dry twigs caught and held her and scratched
her like angry talons, the pitch made her thin little fingers clumsy and stiff
as she went round and round the tree’s great stem, higher and higher upward.
The sparrows and robins in the woods below were beginning to wake and
twitter to the dawn, yet it seemed much lighter there aloft in the pine-tree,
and the child knew that she must hurry if her project were to be of any use.
The tree seemed to lengthen itself out as she went up, and to reach far-
ther and farther upward. It was like a great main-mast to the voyaging earth;
it must truly have been amazed that morning through all its ponderous frame
as it felt this determined spark of human spirit winding its way
from higher
Half a mile from home, at the farther edge of the woods, where the land
was highest, a great pine-tree stood, the last of its generation. Whether it
was left for a boundary mark, or for what reason, no one could say;
the wood-
choppers who had felled its mates were dead and gone long ago, and a
branch to branch. Who knows how steadily the least twigs held themselves
to advantage this light, weak creature on her way! The old pine must have
loved his new dependent. More than all the hawks, and bats, and moths,
and even the sweet voiced thrushes, was the brave, beating heart of the
solitary gray-eyed child. And the tree stood still and frowned away the
winds that June morning while the dawn grew bright in the east.
Sylvia’s face was like a pale star, if one had seen it from the ground, when
the last thorny bough was past, and she stood trembling and tired but wholly
triumphant, high in the tree-top. Yes, there was the sea with the dawning
sun making a golden dazzle over it, and toward that glorious east flew two
hawks with slow-moving pinions. How low they looked in the air from that
height when one had only seen them before far up, and dark against the blue
sky. Their
gray feathers were as soft as moths; they seemed only a little way
from the tree, and Sylvia felt as if she too could go flying away among the
clouds. Westward, the woodlands and farms reached miles and miles into
the distance; here and there were church steeples, and white villages; truly
it was a vast and awesome world!
The birds sang
louder and louder. At last the sun came up bewilderingly
bright. Sylvia could see the white sails of ships out at sea, and the clouds
that were purple and rose-colored and yellow at first began to fade away.
Where was the white heron’s nest in the sea of green branches, and was this
wonderful sight and pageant of the world the only reward for having climbed
to such a giddy height? Now look down again, Sylvia, where the green
is set among the shining birches and dark hemlocks; there where you saw
the white heron once you will see him again; look, look! a white spot of him
like a single floating feather comes up from the dead hemlock and grows
larger, and rises, and comes close at last, and goes by the landmark pine with
steady sweep of wing and outstretched slender neck and crested head. And
wait! wait! do not move a foot or a finger, little girl, do not send an arrow of
light and consciousness from your two eager eyes, for the heron has perched
on a pine bough not far beyond yours, and cries back to his mate on the
nest, and plumes his feathers for the new day!
The child gives a long sigh a minute later when a company of shouting
cat-birds comes also to the tree, and vexed by their fluttering and lawless-
ness the solemn heron goes away. She knows his secret now, the wild, light,
slender bird that floats and wavers, and goes back like an arrow presently to
his home in the green world beneath. Then Sylvia, well satisfied, makes her
perilous way down again, not daring to look far below the branch she stands
on, ready to cry sometimes because her fingers ache and her lamed feet slip.
Wondering over and over again what the stranger would say to her, and what
he would think when she told him how to find his way straight to the her-
on’s nest.
with pine pitch. The grandmother and the sportsman stand in the door
together and question her, and the splendid moment has come to speak of
the dead hemlock-tree by the green marsh.
But Sylvia does not speak after all, though the old grandmother fretfully
rebukes her, and the young man’s kind, appealing eyes are looking straight
in her own. He can make them rich with money; he has promised it, and
they are poor now. He is so well worth making happy, and he waits to hear
the story she can tell.
No, she must keep silence! What is it that suddenly forbids her and makes
her dumb? Has she been nine years growing and now, when the great world
for the first time puts out a hand to her, must she thrust it aside for a bird’s
sake? The murmur of the pine’s green branches is in her ears, she remem-
bers 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 can-
not tell the heron’s secret and give its life away.
Dear loyalty, that suffered a sharp pang as the guest went away disap-
pointed later in the day, that could have served and followed him and loved
him as a dog loves! Many a night Sylvia heard the echo of his whistle haunt-
ing the pasture path as she came home with the loitering cow. She forgot
even her sorrow at the sharp report of his gun and the sight of thrushes and
sparrows dropping silent to the ground, their songs hushed and their pretty
feathers stained and wet with blood. Were the birds better friends than their
hunter might have been,—who can tell? Whatever treasures were lost to her,
woodlands and summer-time, remember! Bring your gifts and graces and tell
your secrets to this lonely country child!
From The Country of the Pointed Firs
There was something about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem
more attractive than other maritime villages of eastern Maine. Perhaps it
was the simple fact of acquaintance with that neighborhood which made it
so attaching, and gave such interest to the rocky shore and dark woods, and
the few houses which seemed to be securely wedged and tree-nailed in among
the ledges? by the Landing. These houses made the most of their seaward
view, and there was a gayety and determined floweriness in their bits of
den ground; the small-paned high windows in the peaks of their steep
gables were like knowing eyes that watched the harbor and the far sea-line
beyond, or looked northward all along the shore and its background of
“Sylvy, Sylvy!” called the busy old grandmother again and again, but nobody
answered, and the small husk bed was empty and Sylvia had disappeared.
The guest waked from a dream, and remembering his day’s pleasure hur-
ried to dress himself that might it sooner begin. He was sure from the way
the shy little girl looked once or twice yesterday that she had at least seen
the white heron, and now she must really be made to tell. Here she comes
now, paler than ever, and her worn old frock is torn and tattered, and smeared
1. The Country of the Pointed Firs was published
first in serial form in the Atlantic Monthly in
1896, and then later that year in book form by
Houghton Mifflin, the source of this text.
2. Exposed bedrock, common throughout north-
ern New England.’ “Tree-nailed”: joined with
wooden pegs.

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