Name three significant elements of the setting in "A White Heron" and tell why they are important.

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three significant elements of the setting in the story include place, time, and environment.

Known as a "local color writer", Sarah Orne Jewett brings to life the unique characteristics of the rural, rugged coast of Maine and the people who live there.  Her choice of place, in its isolation and stunning beauty, is critical in the develpment of her main character Sylvia.

The time of the story, which is the late 19th century, is also significant.  It would not have been unusual for a young girl living on a remote farm in the area to have had no exposure to technology and little contact with people other than the grandmother with whom she lived.  Sylvia's innocence is a direct result of this isolation and lack of contact with the outside world, which the times allowed.

Perhaps the most significant element of setting in this story is the environment.  Sylvia lives in the country, surrounded by the lush forest and with the majestic ocean close by.  She is intimate with the land, and her grandmother says, "there ain't a foot o' ground she don't know her way over".  Sylvia's environment is perhaps the single most important influence in shaping her value system.  It is because of her oneness with nature that she is unable to do what the fascinating stranger asks and betray her beloved white heron.