Monday, October 22, 2012

Excerpt from "A White Heron"

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The excerpt by Sarah Orne Jewette offers a dramatization of a young heroine’s adventure, using literary elements, such as diction imagery, narrative pace, and point of view.

Jewette used a form of diction that allowed the simple act of climbing a tree seem like a bold and courageous escapade that, when complete, was a triumph of greatness. When Sylvia began to climb, the author said she began “with utmost bravery” and “with tingling, eager blood coursing through the channels of her whole frame.” Such phrases capture the readers’ attention and prepare them for an exciting event. Jewette allowed suspense to mount by describing Sylvia’s move from one tree to the next “There, when she made the dangerous pass from one tree to another, the great enterprise would really begin.” The anticipation grows for the next activity after Sylvia took that “daring step” into the so-called “great enterprise.” The author sets the stage for a magical experience by stating that the tree “must truly been amazed that morning through all its ponderous frame as it felt this determined spark of human spirit creeping and climbing from higher branch to branch.” Finally, Sylvia was “wholly triumphant, high in the tree top,” because she was able to see the wonders around her and think that she was surrounded by a “vast and awesome world.”

The images in the passage cause Sylvia’s climb to seem like an expedition that was completely isolated from human life, valiant, and wonderful at the same time. Because the images involve so many references to animals, human life seems nonexistent. For example, Jewette said Sylvia’s bare feet and fingers “pinched and held like a bird’s claw.” Similarly, Sylvia “was almost lost among the dark branches and green leaves heavy and wet with dew; a bird fluttered off its nest, and a red squirrel ran to and fro.” Here, the connection to animals is apparent in that even Sylvia is related to an animal. Her ascension appears valiant when the tree was portrayed as “a great main-mast to the voyaging earth.” Lastly, the scenery was explained in such a way that the experience seemed wonderful “Yes, there was the sea with the dawning sun making a golden dazzle over it and toward that glorious east flew two hawks with slow-moving pinions.”

The narrative pace of the excerpt slows and quickens in order to display different emotions. For example, the first paragraph trails off, which casts a slow, even wistful, pace and tone to Sylvia’s thoughts of the “great pine-tree.” In contrast, while Sylvia is climbing “up, up, almost to the sky itself” and making the pass from one tree to the other, the words seem to flow quicker, giving the illusion of excitement, and increasing anticipation for the reader. Yet, when the passage comes to an end, it reverts back to its slow pace, which seems soothing and relaxed. This pace allows the reader to more readily enjoy the scenery from Sylvia’s perspective.


Because the story was told from Sylvia’s point of view, the readers were able to understand the pride that she felt more fully and appreciate nature more. Because the audience was able to feel the excitement, awe, and accomplishment that Sylvia felt, the excerpt included an in-depth meaning. For instance, although Sylvia is only a child, she appreciated the nature around her, and had no worries. Her main goal was to reach the top to see the view. Sylvia could value what most others take for granted. Although most of the story was told from Sylvia’s point of view, a small piece was transferred to the tree’s perspective, which made the girl’s trip up the tree appear powerful, because it could have thoughts and feelings.

In conclusion, Jewette used literary devices, such as diction, imagery, narrative pace, and point of view to dramatize the excerpt. She turned an everyday action of small child into dangerous expedition with a deeper meaning.

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