- A White Heron
by Sarah Orne Jewett
Sarah Orne Jewett, novelist, short story writer, and poet, is best known
for her vivid, fictional portraits of life of her native Maine. Jewett's
realistic and poetic portraits of the unique values, language, scenery,
and problems of her home state have made her a highly influential regionalist
or "local color" writer. Through her masterwork, The Country of the
Pointed Firs, and other writings, Jewett established herself as a
simple, yet sophisticated stylist who gracefully addressed important,
universal issues such as the protection of nature, the destructiveness
of modernity, and the power of female relationships.
About the Author
Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) was born in South Berwick, Maine, where she
would live most of her life. As a child, Jewett played with her older relatives
and had a close relationship with her physician father. These mature personal
connections would influence her interest in nature, people, literature,
medicine, and her hometownall of which would impact the character
and themes of her writings.
With Harriet Beecher Stowe among her influences, Jewett began writing
stories to capture the local color and developmental issues of her home
state. After the Atlantic Monthly published two of her sketches,
Jewett published a series of them in Deephaven (1877). This brought
her immediate recognition as a graceful, sensitive, and capable regionalist
writer. When Jewett was not in her hometown writing such notable works
as A Country Doctor (1884) and A Marsh Island (1885), she
spent time touring Europe or visiting her close friend, philanthropist
Anne Fields in Boston, mingling in literary circles.
By the mid-1880s, Jewett began to produce her most important works,
A White Heron (1886), The King of Folly Island (1888), A Native
of Winby (1893), and The Life of Nancy (1895). However, it was
Jewett's masterpiece The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), a series
of stories about a deteriorating Maine seaport, that remains her greatest
literary acheivement and most influential work.
- 1. inaudiblytoo quiet to be heard.
- 2. elusivehard to find.
- 3. chafedrubbed.
- 4. ponderoushaving great weight.
- 5. perilousdangerous.
Use the STUDY GUIDE below as a way to work through the selection
and improve your comprehension of the essay.
Answer the Questions to Consider in the book as a way to deepen
your interpretation of the selection.
1. Why has Sylvia come to live with her grandmother?
2. Why is she afraid of the young man when she first sees him?
3. What relationship does Sylvia have with the natural world around her?
4. What do you think motivates Sylvia to make the dangerous climb up
5. Why does Sylvia not tell her grandmother and the young man about the
6. How does Jewett's realism affect the impact of this story?
Sarah Orne Jewett
A Country Doctor (1884)
A Marsh Island (1885)
A White Heron (1886)
The King of Folly Island (1888)
A Native of Winby (1893)
The Life of Nancy (1895)
The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)
The Tory Lover (1901)
American Short Stories
Sherwood Anderson. Winesburg, Ohio (1919).
Raymond Carver. Where I'm Calling From (1989).
William Faulkner. Go Down Moses (1942).
F. Scott Fitzgerald. Tales of the Jazz Age (1922).
Nathaniel Hawthorne. Mosses from an Old Manse (1946).
Ernest Hemingway. The First Forty-Nine Hours and Other Stories
Henry James. The Passionate Pilgrim and Other Stories (1875).
Gish Jen. Who's Irish? and Other Stories (1999).
Herman Melville. The Piazza Tales (1856).
Flannery O'Connor. Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965).
Tillie Olsen. Tell Me a Riddle (1961, enlarged 1964).
Dorothy Parker. Here Lies (1939).
Edgar Allan Poe. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840).
Katherine Anne Porter. Collected Stories (1965).
Mark Twain. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865).
Alice Walker. You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (1981).
Thomas Wolfe. The Hills Beyond (1941).