Study Guide

A White Heron Youth

By Sarah Orne Jewett

Youth

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.

Questions About Youth

  1. How does Sylvia's age play into her reaction to the hunter?
  2. Do you consider "A White Heron" to be a coming-of-age story? Why or why not?
  3. How does Sylvia's youth affect the way the hunter treats her?
  4. Would Sylvia have made a different choice if she were older?

Chew on This

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.

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