What do Sylvia and the heron have in common?

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Sylvia and the heron are both elusive and mysterious creatures.  Sylvia's tendency is to keep to herself and those people she knows well -- like her grandmother and her cow; she is made very uncomfortable by the presence of the hunter at first and even views him as "the enemy." ...

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Sylvia and the heron are both elusive and mysterious creatures.  Sylvia's tendency is to keep to herself and those people she knows well -- like her grandmother and her cow; she is made very uncomfortable by the presence of the hunter at first and even views him as "the enemy."  He is certainly the enemy of the elusive heron.  The hunter's intention is to find and kill this beautiful, white bird and then stuff it to keep in his home. 

Further, both Sylvia and the heron are representative of the fragility of nature.  At one point, when Sylvia realizes that she'll have to tell the hunter her name and take him home with her, "she hung her head as if the stem of it were broken."  She's compared to a fragile flower that can be easily damaged by the hunter and the things that he wants.  One can say the same thing about the birds the young man hunts.  At the end of the story, the narrator describes the "sharp report of his gun and the sight of thrushes and sparrows dropping silent to the ground, their songs hushed and their pretty feathers stained and wet with blood."  It does not take much for the hunter to end the life of the birds he finds so lovely.  In the end, it was Sylvia's first impression of him that is correct, and it is perhaps why the heron eludes him: he is the enemy of the beauty and life in nature.

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The heron represents a kind of freedom for which Sylvia longs, but in an instinctive way. She does not long for it in the way you might long for a mocha frappacino, for example. This longing is what we call inchoate. It is a deep longing which we all feel, and which for Sylvia is symbolized and activated by the heron. Its great wings, its soaring freedom and its simple "difference" from her are powerful, and stir in her powerful feelings of strength and freedom. When she climbs the pine tree, the vistas which open to her eyes and to her thinking are life changing, though she is only beginning to realize it. That too is like a vague stirring or premonition in her heart. We all want to be more than we are. To see further, to see more clearly--this is Sylvia growing up. The heron and Sylvia both just want to be as free as they can be. When she is in the tree, she is "with" the heron--high up and free.

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