What effect is achieved by the author's frequent shifts of the story's point of view in "A White Heron"? Is it a strong or weak technique? What effect is achieved by the author's frequent shifts of the story's point of view in "A White Heron"? Is it a strong or weak technique?

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Many readers have seen Jewett’s frequent changes in point of view as a weakness and a sign of immature talent; however, more modern readers see the shifts as intentional and effective. The story is told by an omniscient third-person narrator, who reveals more of Sylvia’s thoughts and feelings than the...

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Many readers have seen Jewett’s frequent changes in point of view as a weakness and a sign of immature talent; however, more modern readers see the shifts as intentional and effective. The story is told by an omniscient third-person narrator, who reveals more of Sylvia’s thoughts and feelings than the other characters. The narrator tells most of the story in the past tense, but three times shifts to present tense: when Sylvia first hears the hunter approaching (‘‘this little woods-girl is horror-stricken’’), when she has spotted the heron’s nest (‘‘she knows his secret now’’), and when she finds that she cannot reveal the secret (‘‘Sylvia does not speak after all’’). These moments reflect immediacy connected with some kind of discovery. Then the narrator backs away again. However, sometimes narrator’s detachment vanishes as the narrator addresses Sylvia directly (‘‘look down again, Sylvia’’) or nature directly (‘‘woodlands and summer-time, remember’’). This puts the reader directly into the action. These changes from past to present, of detachment and involvement are an example of Jewett’s using language to show the how Sylvia is growing more and more involved with nature.

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