Jewett depicts Sylvia as a special character by showing the depth of her attachment to the natural world. She is unwilling to betray the location of the white heron even when she is offered money to do so by a young man she likes.
When the cheerful young stranger with the gun comes back with Sylvia to the neat and tidy little house where she lives in the New England "wilderness" with her grandmother, her grandmother describes Sylvia as completely at one with the local terrain and animals:
There ain't a foot o' ground she don't know her way over, and the wild creatures counts her one o' themselves.
The young man is interested in this, as he would like Sylvia to lead him to the elusive white heron, which he hopes to shoot and stuff. In fact, he offers her $10.00, a large sum of money in that time period, to show him where to find the white heron.
But Sylvia feels too much kinship with the creature to reveal its whereabouts, even for the money. When she climbs the tree to find the heron as dawn breaks, she feels the beauty of the world. Although she locates the heron and likes the young man very much, she cannot betray the bird:
She remembers 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 cannot tell the heron's secret and give its life away.
Sylvia's refusal to give up the location of the heron even for badly needed money marks her out as a special child, with a special affinity to nature.