Sylvia spends so much time hugging trees that she probably has splinters in her armpits, and since she's our leading lady in "A White Heron," we're given a glimpse into what it's like to be a young girl in perfect sync with the natural world.
But when a hunter approaches this peaceful scene with money in his pockets and a gun over his shoulder, Sylvia is forced to examine just how important nature is to her. Should see forsake her green-to-the-max lifestyle in favor of gaining material goods? Or will she realize that the bond she has with nature is truly priceless? If you guessed option two, then go ahead and give yourself a gold star: In this story, nature totally wins.
"A White Heron" paints a strong contrast between Sylvia's love for nature and the hunter's desire to tame it.
Through the story of Sylvia's uncle Dan, Mrs. Tilley illustrates how nature lovers can become lost and confused when thrust into hectic urban society.
Don't let Akon fool you—a little bit of loneliness isn't necessarily a bad thing, and this is certainly the case in "A White Heron." In the story, we're introduced to a young country girl named Sylvia whose only companions are her grandmother and loyal cow. Needless to say, Friday nights are probably pretty wild around their place.
Sometimes this isolation is as comforting to Sylvia as a sweat suit on a cold winter day. Sometimes, however, it's as suffocating as, well, a sweat suit on a humid summer day. That's the thing about living an isolated life: It might be peaceful, but we all need a little bit of companionship at times.
It is Sylvia's natural love of isolation that prevents her from taking up the hunter's offer.
Sylvia's love of the isolation is bred from her early life experience in an overcrowded city.
Do you believe in magic? Sylvia sure does in "A White Heron"—it just might not be of the conventional sort. Although Sylvia spends most of her time playing in the forest, there's one spot that holds a special place in her heart, a place that makes her feel like she can fly. Sounds great right? Well, the problem is that a young hunter has burst onto the scene and offered Sylvia a hefty sum to make that magic disappear. Want to find out what happens when the awe-inspiring power of nature is set up against the cash-money that civilization has to offer? Read on, Shmoopers.
Sylvia's experience atop the pine tree reminds her that the majesty of nature can't be matched by man-made society.
When Sylvia climbs the trees to find the heron, she has what can only be described as a revelatory experience.
It doesn't matter if you're Sara Bareilles or Ash Ketchum—it can be hard to make the right choice. Take the case of Sylvia in "A White Heron," for example. This young nature-lover is given a tough choice between protecting the life of a rare white heron and selling it out to a young hunter looking for a new "piece" for his collection. Although it's difficult, Sylvia learns that we must live with our decisions whether we like them or not—or some mix of the two, as the case may be.
Ultimately, Sylvia makes the right choice based on her beliefs—to do otherwise would have been hypocritical.
Although Sylvia chooses to protect the heron, the story seems to indicate that Mrs. Tilley would have made a different decision if it were up to her.
In "A White Heron," nine-year-old Sylvia's youthful innocence leaves her open to manipulations when she finds herself faced with a classic pre-teen conundrum: Should she pretend to be something she's not for the sake of a boy (guess she's past the cooties phase), or should she stay true to the things she believes are right? With this decision weighing heavily upon her shoulders, Sylvia is thrust headfirst into a coming-of-age experience that she never expected to bump into on her way home one day.
Sylvia's youth has the unfortunate side effect of allowing her to being manipulated by the hunter.
By refusing to sell out the white heron to the hunter, Sylvia has a sort of coming-of-age experience.