What do you think is real about realism? Please also give me some specific reasons why Jewett's "A White Heron" is an example of local color realism. In your response, please be as specific as possible.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Realism is a movement in literature in which authors attempt to depict life realistically. This means that authors tend to describe the minutiae of daily life in detail and tend to feature characters who are average and ordinary. Unlike works of romanticism, realist works are not very dramatic and do...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Realism is a movement in literature in which authors attempt to depict life realistically. This means that authors tend to describe the minutiae of daily life in detail and tend to feature characters who are average and ordinary. Unlike works of romanticism, realist works are not very dramatic and do not center around crisis moments as plot points. Regionalism (also called local color fiction) is a more specific subgenre of realism in which authors capture a realistic vision of life in a particular area of the country.

In Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron," the landscape and culture of the rural northeastern United States is portrayed. As in most regional works, Jewett's narrator begins with a detailed physical description of the setting. The main character, Sylvia, is also introduced, and she is immediately connected with the natural setting that surrounds her. As the narrator explains, "it was her greatest pleasure to hide herself away among the huckleberry bushes" (paragraph 2) and to go out and find the cow that had wandered into the pasture. Local color is also introduced into the story through dialogue, and when Mrs. Tilley and the sportsman speak in the story, we can understand speech patterns and concerns of people in the region. Later in the story, Sylvia must resolve a conflict in which she can either tell the hunter where to find the white heron or keep the information to herself. Sylvia decides to do the latter, aligning herself with her natural environment. The story is an example of regionalism because it showcases the landscape and the people of the setting, but Jewett takes this a step further in actually connecting the protagonist to the region on a deeper level due to her emotional bond with the heron.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team