The short story "A White Heron" written by Sarah Orne Jewett is the story of a young girl and how she becomes her own person in a time when women were supposed to be loyal like dogs toward men. The current views and the beginning of change in those views that some of society held towards the independence of women in the late 1800s can be seen through the character portrayals in "A White Heron." .
In the opening of the story, Sylvia is alone in the woods driving home her cow when she runs into a young man. As the man approaches she refers to him as the enemy, and in a way he is. In the story Sylvia, her grandmother, and even the female cow are living a life that is free of males, yet happy. Suddenly, in comes this hunter to throw off the balance of the independent and female dominant life Sylvia knows. When Sylvia and the hunter return to Sylvia's grandmother, Mrs. Tilley's house Sylvia believed Mrs. Tilley had misunderstood the situation and made a mistake in allowing him to stay. The story also showed change when it mentioned the awakening of Mrs. Tilley's "long slumbering hospitality," reminding the reader of how secluded the women were (Charters, 391). .
Jewett shows men as being proud and always in search of a prize, rather than companionship. When the hunter began to converse with Mrs. Tilley he claimed a love for birds and that he had a great collection of them, in this way he wanted the birds as a prize he could display rather than a companion or friend. With this character and his display of stuffed dead birds, it relates how women were also viewed in this time. In this time women could be considered prizes, part of a man's belongings to be displayed and admired. It can also be said that women were not expected to really live their life, but instead to become dead inside like the birds were dead. Love for men was similar to ownership.
In the story Mrs. Tilley is an older woman who is easily able to revert back to what was expected of women at the time.