A White Heron Questions and Answers
by Sarah Orne Jewett

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How is "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett a work of literary realism?

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"A White Heron" is realistic in its depiction of the poverty that Sylvia and her grandmother, Mrs. Tilley, live in, so that it is believable the ten dollars (several hundred dollars in today's money) Sylvia is offered to lead the young hunter to the white heron would be a temptation to her. She reflects that night in bed on the many "wished-for treasures" that could be purchased with the money.

The dialect used by Mrs. Tilley is also realistic (Jewett is known for her use of dialect). For example, Mrs. Tilley says to the hunter of Sylvia:

There ain't a foot o' ground she don't know her way over, and the wild creaturs counts her one o' themselves.

We can imagine a woman of the backwoods speaking this way.

It is realistic, too, that the young hunter is not treated as an evil person. He is richer than the family he stays with, and Sylvia doesn't want him to kill and stuff the heron, but she doesn't hate him. He is depicted as kind, although lacking in Sylvia's empathy for the animal kingdom. It...

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