Study Guide

A White Heron Writing Style

By Sarah Orne Jewett

Writing Style

Descriptive

Jewett is a writer with a vivid eye for detail, and she fills "A White Heron" to the brim with vibrant descriptions with deep, emotional undertones. Although she has a wide vocabulary, she rarely uses any hard-to-understand words, opting instead to focus on making the story's natural imagery pop. For instance, of the tallest pine she writes, "the stately head of this old pine towered above them all and made a landmark for sea and shore miles and miles away" (2.1)—and when she does, we know it isn't just tall, but that it's presence is palpable.

When it comes to characters, Jewett makes darn sure that you can feel what they're feeling. Sylvia isn't just scared by the hunter; she's "horror-stricken" (1.5). She doesn't just have a crush on him; her "heart" is "thrilled by a dream of love" (1.26). This emotional heightening helps us get inside the minds of the characters and emphasizes the internal turmoil they go through in pursuit of their goals. We may be living drastically different lives than Sylvia and her cohorts, but Jewett's style makes sure we're right there with them.

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