Study Guide

A White Heron Man and the Natural World

By Sarah Orne Jewett

Man and the Natural World

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.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What is the difference between Sylvia's and the hunter's relationship to the natural world?
  2. In your opinion, why does Sylvia fall in love with nature?
  3. How does Sylvia's relationship with her cow illustrate her love for nature?
  4. What does the story have to say about city life?

Chew on This

"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.

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