How does the author develop the traits of Sylvia throughout the plot of "A White Heron"?  

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One of the key ways in which the character of Sylvia and her traits are developed in this excellent short story is through the arrival of the handsome young hunter, who awakens within Sylvia yearnings for things that she had never known existed before, thanks to her secluded life and the way that she had more of a relationship with the natural world than she did with the human one. Note how her impressions of the hunter change after their first day together:

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.

Note the way in which Sylvia is shown to be maturing and growing up, feeling the first awakenings of the "woman's heart" that was and had been "asleep" within her for so long. The impact of the tangible possibility of the "dream of love" is of course one that forces Sylvia into making a very difficult decision, as she must choose between these new stirrings in her heart for love and companionship and her close relationship with nature.