Although many scholars of American literature overlook Regionalist fiction as a limited field, Sarah Orne Jewett uses her short story “A White Heron” to transcend the boundaries of her genre and the limits of her gender. The story tells of a young girl, Sylvia, who protects a heron from a handsome male hunter despite sacrificing financial gain and possible romance. This essay inspects the text of “A White Heron,” considering the symbolism of nature a female character. Jewett herself viewed sexuality as fluid, and even proposed making lead couples homosexual in service of the narrative. In this view, the character Sylvia’s communion with nature resembles the interplay of lovers, so her choice to protect the heron becomes a social choice to reject heteronormative behaviors and embrace an alternative space dominated by women. Using phallic imagery, classic symbols such as the sun, moon, and firearms, and the unique perspective of a young girl, Jewett champions the genre of regionalism and the right of women to live lifestyles outside the norm.
Plourde, Aubrey E.
"A Woman's World: Sarah Orne Jewett's Regionalist Alternative,"
Rollins Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 5
, Article 9.
Available at: https://scholarship.rollins.edu/rurj/vol5/iss1/9