Study Guide

The Hunter in A White Heron

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The Hunter

How do you feel about the hunter?

We ask because, to put it simply, the dude is straight-up ambiguous. On one hand, we see him as representative of the materialism of city life—he's collecting birds instead of letting them fly free, after all. But on the other hand, we never see him do anything unsavory, and Sylvia herself is unsure whether it she is right to reject him. So which side do you land on?

It's not like the hunter does anything awful. Sure, he wants another bird to add to his collection, but it's not like there's anything exceptional about this. Plus, his ten-dollar offer for the "rare bird" that he has "been hunting for these five years" (1.18) is pretty generous when you think about it (ten bucks = mad skrilla way back when). What's wrong with trying to reward Sylvia's extensive knowledge of the forest with a bit of cash money? Nothing overtly.

But the truth is that this is exactly what Sylvia escaped from. Although we only know Sylvia as a rambunctious nature-lover, we have to remember that she came from the city. Yet, when Sylvia arrives at her grandmother's house for the first time, she exclaims that "this is a beautiful place to live in, and she never should wish to go home" (1.3). Although it's not like taking the money would send her back to the city, it would certainly be a push in that direction—or, more precisely, a pull away from her connection with the country.

As Sylvia is returning home from the oak tree, the hunter thinks to himself that she "must really be persuaded to tell" (2.11), giving us the first real indication that he isn't quite as good of a guy as he wants us to believe. It never gets more ominous than that, but even though the hunter isn't a bad guy per-say, he certainly doesn't seem to have Sylvia's best interests in heart. So scram, dude.

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