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In "A White Heron", could the white heron be a symbol of Sylvia herself?How are the two...

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mgomezy12 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2009 at 11:39 AM via web

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In "A White Heron", could the white heron be a symbol of Sylvia herself?

How are the two similar?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 29, 2009 at 2:06 PM (Answer #2)

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It is true that the white heron and Sylvia share some common characteristics. They are both isolated and alone in the woods, they are both sought after, Sylvia for her knowledge of the woods and the white heron for its beauty. However, it think it would stretch the similarities a little too far to say one was a symbol for another. It think a better interpretation is that the white heron represents nature and the two views mankind has towards it. The young ornithologist simply wants the bird as a "specimen" for his collection. He sees nature as utilitarian and for what it can be used for. By the end of the story, Sylvia,sees nature for all its beauty--not as something that can be used, but as something that should be appreciated for itself. Her journey up the pine tree is evidence that Sylvia does change her mind about nature. At first, the squirrels "scold" her and the tree "lenthens itself out" in order to make it more difficult to climb. But in the end the tree comes to "like its new dependent" and when she gets to the top, she has a new perspective that encompasses the entire view of nature, not just its utilitarian value. That's why she declines the young hunter's offer of $10 to show the bird's hiding place. She would not take money to betray the beauty of something so beautiful.

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