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A White Heron
Interactive Literature Selections

Literary Tools
Conflict. A conflict is a struggle between two forces in a literary work. In “A White Heron,” the central conflict is internal, occurring within Sylvia. As you read, determine the conflict within Sylvia.

Motif. A motif is any element that recurs in one or more works of literature. Each time the motif occurs it means something slightly different because it occurs in different moments in the story.

Reader's Resource
A White Heron,” which appeared in a collection by the same name, is an example of regional literature. The nineteenth-century regionalists wrote at a time when the United States was being rapidly industrialized. Instead of being allowed to produce material goods at home, people needed to work in factories on machines provided there. Industrialization was accompanied by the movement of large numbers of people from the country to the city, where they could find work. Ancient, old-growth forests were being cut down to plant farms to feed city dwellers, and the wild animals that inhabited these places were losing their natural habitats. Like much regional literature, “A White Heron” can be seen as a protest against these events. It encourages the reader to develop an intimate relationship with a place. Above all, it describes a conflict felt during frontier days by people who lived off the land: the conflict between a desire to conquer the natural world and the need to relate to it on its own terms. This conflict is still being worked out in our own time.

graphic_org.gif
As you read the story, make a chart like the one below. On the left, summarize passages that refer to the bird motif. On the right, state the significance of the passages, or what you learn about Sylvia and the young man. One example has been done for you.

readers journal
What secret have you kept, and why did you keep it?

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