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What events lead up to the climax in "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett?

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user2377762 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2013 at 6:50 PM via web

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What events lead up to the climax in "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:22 PM (Answer #1)

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The climax of the story is when Sylvia finds the white heron’s nest.  It is the climax because she has to choose whether to tell the hunter or let the bird go.

A climax is the turning point of a story.  It is often where a character has to make a choice.

There are several significant events that led up to this point.  First there is the fact that Sylvia was bullied when she lived in the city.  As a result, she is afraid of people and lives a solitary life on the farm.

Next, there is the appearance of the hunter.  The man appears looking for birds, but he is lost and asks Sylvia for directions.  She takes him home and he learns from her grandmother that she has seen the white heron for which he searches.

Sylvia and the hunter go into the woods the next day.  She begins to be interested in him.  This is an important event because it leads to the choice being difficult for her.

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. (ch 1)

Fourth, the hunter shoots some birds.  Sylvia does not like this.  It bothers her.  This is also important because if she tells the hunter where the bird’s nest is, he will kill it.

Fifth, Sylvia searches for the nest.  It is a difficult thing to find, and she risks injury to find it.

[The] heron has perched on a pine bough not far beyond … (ch 2)

When Sylvia finds the nest she has to choose whether to tell the hunter and have a new friend and possibly a husband.  If she does this, the bird will certainly be shot.

The falling action of the story is rather short, because that choice is its most important part.  Sylvia is not just choosing between nature and people, she is choosing between her personal moral code and that of another.  She chooses her own.

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