What Is the climax in "A White Heron"?

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kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climax of the story is the point at which Sylvia makes her decision to keep the location of the white heron’s nest to herself, rather than please the fascinating stranger who has elicited her help to find the elusive bird.

Sylvia was initially bewitched by the visitor. His attention, gift and promise of much needed money for the family lead Sylvia to initially ignore the possible intention of the collector. It is as she climbs the great pine that the natural environment which has made her feel so safe and supported that she is reminded of their kinship –

 Who knows how steadily the least twigs held themselves to advantage this light, weak creature on her way! The old pine must have loved his new dependent.

Jewett stresses the immediacy of Sylvia’s revelation as the narrative moves from the past to the present tense-

 And wait! wait! do not move a foot or a finger, little girl, do not send an arrow of light and consciousness from your two eager eyes, for the heron has perched on a pine bough not far beyond yours, and cries back to his mate on the nest and plumes his feathers for the new day!

It appears as if the tree and its inhabitants, as well as the omniscient narrator, are willing Sylvia to keep her secret. And, happily, she does so.



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A White Heron

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