A White Heron Thesis
And for modern readers its implications are even broader.The hero archetype has been ably treated by a number of writers, but the definitive treatment is probably Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).
This, to use Campbell's terms, is her "call to adventure." The next day she tags along behind the hunter, grows increasingly fond of him, and decides to find the heron's nest. the last of its generation," stands at the edge of the woods taller than any other tree around (14).The next morning, the "Initiation" part of Campbell's archetype begins.She steals out of her house before daybreak and goes to the tree, "the monstrous ladder reaching up, up, almost to the sky itself" (16).And he must somehow integrate, if he can, his transcendental experience with the "banalities and noisy obscenities" of his old world" (218).This summary of Campbell's archetype fits "A White Heron" exactly.It is "amazed" that "this determined spark of human spirit" is climbing it.It loves "the brave, beating heart of the solitary grey-eyed child," steadies its limbs for her, and frowns away the winds (17)."A White Heron" is the story of Sylvia, a nine-year-old girl, who goes in quest of an exotic, almost miraculous bird. Since coming from a "crowded manufacturing town" to live with her grandmother deep in the forest, she has become, as her name suggests, a "little woods-girl," a forest nymph (A White Heron 5).Her closeness to the forest and to the forest creatures is phenomenal.At this point, Jewett tells us that a "great pine tree, . This tree, we come to learn, has magical properties.Sylvia has often thought that from the top of this tree one could see the sea, something she dreams of doing. Not only could one see "all the world" from its top but the white heron's "hidden nest" as well (14).