White Heron: Character Analysis

Sylvia’s sense of wonder and curiosity portrays the suspenseful tone as she embarks on her own endeavor up this tree. Not until she approaches weary success, does the building danger of her adventure cease.
In the first few lines the author, Sarah Orne Jewett, creates an aura of mystery around this “old pine [that] towered above them all.” She feels this tree has an unspoken story from long ago that she desires to know. Once she embarks on her journey up the “monstrous ladder”, time appears to slow down. Every detail of how residents of the white oak reacts is recorded. Sylvia,”almost lost in the dark branches”, faces the impending doom of falling. Stepping on leaves “heavy and wet with dew”’ eventually making the “dangerous pass” between the two trees on “swaying... limb[s]” and being caught... held... and scratched” all foreshadow to her failing at her goal of reaching the top. Yet, after much struggle, she makes it, almost giving way to a sigh of relief that this girl didn’t get seriously injured.
Allusions to birds and bird like qualities reappear throughout the short passage as an underlying symbol of freedom. The title alone, “A White Heron” foreshadows how symbolic birds will become. Sylvia’s bare fingers and feet “pinched and held like a bird’s claws” and twigs “scratched her like angry talons”. She feels brave and majestic like all the “hawks... bats...and the sweet-voiced thrushes” once she conquers the tall pine. Her lack of fear of the potential fall she could encounter reflects the avian spirit that guides her heart.   Even after her exhausting struggle she feels “wholly triumphant” for what she has accomplished and “felt as if she... could go flying away among... clouds” on the wings of her imagination.