What is the main plot in the story "A White Heron"?

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A little girl named Sylvia lives with her grandmother, Mrs. Tilley, in the country. Sylvia has thrived here on her grandmother's farm, and

Everybody said that it was a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town, but, as...

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A little girl named Sylvia lives with her grandmother, Mrs. Tilley, in the country. Sylvia has thrived here on her grandmother's farm, and

Everybody said that it was a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she had never been alive at all before she came to live at the farm.

Sylvia even thinks about a "wretched geranium" that had belonged to one of the neighbors in town, as though she pities the poor flower that could not grow there. She is often compared to elements in nature: when she is alarmed, she hangs her head "as if the stem of it were broken," a simile that compares her neck to a flower's stem; another time, her face is said to be "like a pale star"; another time, her fingers are "like bird's claws." When Sylvia is approached by a hunter from the city, he offers to pay her ten dollars to tell him where the heron's nest is. He wants to kill the heron and stuff it to keep in his home. Although Sylvia learns the nest's location, she ultimately cannot bring herself to tell the hunter. She "cannot speak; she cannot tell the heron's secret and give its life away." Thus, we might read Sylvia, whose name is actually taken from the word sylvan (which refers to one who spends a lot of time in nature and the woods), as a symbol of nature and the hunter as a symbol of society or industrialization. She could also represent innocence and purity, while the hunter represents maturity and corruption.

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Sylvia is a nine-year-old girl who spends most of her life wandering the woods near her grandmother's home near the Maine coast. Her only friend is her grandmother's cow, Mistress Mooly, with whom she plays a game of hide-and-seek each night. One day, she encounters a man in the woods, who is lost after a day's hunting. He follows her home, and he spends the night. The man reveals that he is an ornithologist, collecting specimens for his collection; he is specifically looking for a rare white heron, one which Sylvia has seen in the woods. Together they go hunting for the heron the next day, but they do not spot the bird. Sylvia develops a crush on the young hunter, and she heads out early the next morning in hopes of spotting the heron. She climbs a tree and, sure enough, she discovers its nest. But when she returns home to join her new friend on another hunt, she fails to reveal the location of the nest and the bird about which she has dreamed.

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