How does an individual discover ones self? What might a person give up in order to do so? Sylvia, a character from Sarah Orne Jewett's short story, A White Heron, goes through a plethora of events and personal decision making while unknowingly finding herself.
Mrs. Tilley, Sylvia's grandmother, chose Sylvia to live with on a farm in New England near the woods. Mrs. Tilley thinks Sylvia takes after Dan, her only child still alive other than Sylvia's mother. Sylvia promptly fell in love with the countryside and would never wish to go home.
Whether Sylvia was at home or on the farm, she always did choirs around the house to help out. Miss Moolly, an old clever cow, had to be walked back through the woods into the barn. Knowing how difficult this really was, Sylvia decided to give it a try. After a quick game of hide and go seek, Miss Moolly and Sylvia were on the path and on their way. As the cow stopped for a drink of water, Sylvia heard a loud whistle. She left the cow and attempted to hide behind a bush, but it was too late. A young man spotted her and asked her if she could tell him the way to the main road or where he could find a place to stay the night. Cautiously, Sylvia brings the young man back to grandma's house. Mrs. Tilley welcomes the gentlemen with a meal and a room to stay in. After dinner the young man and Mrs. Tilley have a conversation about why the young man is out in the woods. The young man explains that he is a bird collector and only needs one more bird, a White Heron, to complet!.
e his collection. The man offers Mrs. Tilley ten dollars for any assistance he might get. Immediately the grandmother explains to the man that Sylvia knows where to find such a bird, and she can help him find it. While listening in on the conversation, Sylvia finds herself in a bind. Sylvia knows that her grandmother needs the money, but she also realizes she is the only hope in completing the young man's collection of birds.