Comparing and contrasting Jewett's Sylvy in "A White Heron" with May
Bartram of James's "The Beast in the Jungle" proves to be an interesting task.
How can two such unlike characters be so alike. Only on close examination do
these common threads appear.
In the story "A White Heron," Sylvy is presented as a young, pre-
adolescent girl, living in the country with her grand mother. They are very
isolated to themselves, living fairly simple and frugal lives. Sylvy has a few
mundane responsibilities which give way to plenty of time for meandering about,
and day dreaming while setting about her task. One evening, after much
searching for their cow, which proved to be a daily chore, she was coercing the
cow back home when surprised by the presence of a stranger. He was ever so
polite and friendly. He was hunting the Great White Heron and had hoped she or
her family might put him up for the evening. In a nice sort of way he was pushy
and insistent. Not used to interacting with many people, the reader can see it
would have been a difficult situation for her to handle any other way. Rather,
it handled her. The grandmother was most receptive and hospitable. Over the
course of the short stay, Sylvy realized many things. The hunter offered money
in exchange for help in finding the heron's nest. Not only was his offer
tempting and attractive, but a curiosity awakened in her as he was most
attractive as well. She was somewhat intrigued and in a fog, taken each moment
and each step one at a time, carefully, slowly. Sylvy seems to come to her
senses in the twelfth hour when she climbs high into the trees early one morning
to see the white heron fly in ever so close. It was as though their was a
kinship between the two, an understanding. Because of this special feeling for
the bird, Sylvy could not succumb to the hunter's desire for knowledge of the
nest and never divulged the secret.
May Bartram in the "Beast in the Jungle" contrasts Sylvy quite
interestingly she is assumed to be in her twenties and time is starting to pass
faster making the need for a man in her life more immanent with each passing day.
Suddenly one day, the right time, the right...