A White Heron

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A White Heron

White Heron and Other Stories - Hardcover - USA - 1st Edition.jpg

Anthology in which it was originally printed.

Author Sarah Orne Jewett
Published 1886-??-??
Type Fiction, Short story
Genre Drama
Themes Childhood, Environmentalism
Age Group Adult

A White Heron is a short story written by Sarah Orne Jewett and first published in 1886 in her anthology A White Heron and Other Stories. The story is in the public domain.

The story follows a young neuroatypical girl named Sylvia who is extremely anxious around people, so she has been sent to live with her grandmother in the country. She feels much more at home in the solitude of the wilderness, but is confronted by a charismatic hunter who gets on her good side and offers to pay he a large sum of money if she would help him find a rare white heron so that he can shoot it and add it to his collection.



After reading all of the titles I had heard of in my short story anthology, I decided I should try to read more from female authors. Seeing the name "Sarah," I chose this one.




— This section contains spoilers! —


  • Jewett doesn't describe Sylvia as being "neurodivergent" or on the "autism spectrum" (neither term existed at the time), but her affinity with animals, fear of people, and hyper fixations make it clear that she is. It's nice to not only include a neurodivergent character, but also make her the story's heroine.
  • Sylvia shows great courage to risk her life to climb the tall ancient pine.


  • The ending felt a little too abrupt. Although I like that Sylvia wasn't persuaded by the charismatic hunter to reveal the location of the rare heron, thereby saving its life, I would have liked a bit more internal conflict.


  • Nothing.


Strong female character?PassSylvia protects the animals she adores from the hunter despite growing to like him.
Bechdel test?PassMrs. Tilley talks to Sylvia multiple times about the cow and her whereabouts.
Strong person of color character?FailAlthough it isn't stated, every character is probably white.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


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