Study Guide

A White Heron Plot Analysis

By Sarah Orne Jewett

Plot Analysis

Exposition

A Girl and Her Cow

We open on young Sylvia chilling with her cow—a quaint scene, right? It's getting late so they're heading back to the home she shares with her grandmother.

Rising Action

Cha-Ching

Out of nowhere, a hunter emerges with a big old gun. He's hunting birds and could use a place to stay for the night. Back at Sylvia's that evening, he offers ten dollars to anyone who can lead him to the elusive white heron.

Climax

Tree-Climbing for Fun and Profit

After spending a day with the hunter, Sylvia runs to the tallest tree in the woods to locate the heron. She reaches the absolute highest point in the woods, has a quasi-mystical experience, and—drumroll, please—locates that darn white heron.

Falling Action

Silent Sylvia

Sylvia climbs down the tree and runs home, eager to give the young man the exact coordinates of the heron. But—no matter how hard she tries—she is unable to speak.

Resolution

Objects in the Rearview Mirror

As she ages, Sylvia continues to question her decision and sometimes imagines hearing the young hunter approaching her in the woods.

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