Comparing Jewett, Chopin, and Freeman Essay

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Comparing Jewett, Chopin, and Freeman

The White Heron depicts a story of a little girl who leads a life of respect and love of nature rather than that of fortune. Early on in the story, she meets a boy who is a self-proclaimed ornithologist, a scientist that studies birds. He is willing to pay ten dollars to whomever can show him the White Heron he had once seen. It is now up to Sylvia, the young girl, to make a decision either in favor of the ornithologist or the white heron. Ultimately, she will be making a decision to acquiesce to male dominance or not. The pine tree in which Sylvia climbs in order to see the white heron up close can be represented as a symbol of life.

“Now she thought of the tree with a new excitement, for why, if one climbed it at break of day, could not one see all the world, and easily discover whence the white heron flew? ” (Jewett 466). The tree actually takes on the characteristics of an animal, when Sylvia is climbing the tree and the twigs scratch her with “angry like talons” (Jewett 466). Sylvia continues on this obstacle up and up the tree, and continuing on towards her revelation. The birds of the forest begin to sing louder and louder as Sylvia climbs, meaning she is coming ever so closely to the top of the tree or the climax of her new life.

She finally sees the white heron and is eager with anticipation to tell the boy of the path to find it. Sylvia ventures home and the young ornithologist and Sylvia’s grandmother are both waiting for her. “He can make them rich with money; he has promised it, and they are poor now. He is so well worth making happy; and he waits to hear the story she can tell” (Jewett 468). Again the idea of male and female views occurs with Sylvia contemplating the decision of telling the young ornithologist about the white heron and how to Sylvia he is “well worth” it. There is a conflict of allowing a man to decide her fate, or Sylvia deciding for herself.

“The murmur of the pine’s green branches is in her ears, she remembers how the white heron came flying through the golden air and how they watched the sea and the morning together, and Sylvia cannot speak, she cannot tell the heron’s secret and give its life away” (Jewett 468). Ultimately, Sylvia decides for herself and allows the white heron to continue living. “A New England Nun” tells the story of a patient woman who has been engaged to a man, Joe Dagget, for fifteen years, fourteen of which he was away in Australia trying to make a life for himself.

There are two main symbols that represent both of the characters: a dog named Caesar symbolizing Louisa and her desires, and a yellow canary representing Joe Dagget. Caesar is chained to his hut in the backyard because as a puppy he viciously bit the neighbor. His chained body represents a separation from the rest of the world, which is a direct result from Louisa’s feeling of isolation as well. “Caesar was a veritable hermit of a dog. For the greater part of his life he has dwelt in his secluded hut, shut out from the society of his kind? ” (Freeman 449).

Caesar can also act as a device to carry out Louisa’s desires, but is unable to due to the separation from society. “Louisa’s feet had turned into a path, smooth maybe under a calm, serene sky, but so straight and unswerving that it could only meet a check at her grave, and so narrow that there was no room for any one at her side” (Freeman 448). Louisa’ life had turned into a pattern; a life of repetition while Joe was away. Her desires were masked and her life had become a lonely cycle of daily routines, a cycle lacking the position of a man.

“A little yellow canary that had been asleep in his green cage at the south window woke up and fluttered wildly, beating his little yellow wings against the wires. He always did so when Joe Dagget came into the room” (Freeman 446). Although Joe had given his word to Louisa fifteen years ago, he has fallen out of love with Louisa; hence he is trapped or caged by a situation that merits no resolution. Joe, at heart, seems as vivacious as the canary, but is held back by his promise to Louisa. “The Storm” draws vivid imagery with the use of nature as a live character.

The story begins with Bobinot and his son Bibi waiting out the storm at the local general store. The story then goes to the house of Bobinot and Bibi, where the wife and mother, Calixta is of no concern to the approaching storm and is occupied with her sewing. Alcee then enters the story and comes to Calixta’s house, seeking shelter from the storm. The first sign we see of something possibly going awry in the near future is when Alcee enters the home of Calixta and Bobinot and closing the door behind him, perhaps shutting out the rest of the world so that he would have Calixta all to himself.

Next, a lightning bolt struck, shocking Calixta to retreat backwards and falling into the arms of Alcee. She released herself from his arms, but the impression had left its mark already with Alcee. He wanted her. “Her lips were as red and moist as a pomegranate seed” (Chopin 752). Alcee kisses Calixta. “They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in her arms” (752). The storm is approaching, but Calixta and Alcee are ignoring the signs of it. “She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon” (752).

Although Calixta is a married woman with a child, she has yet to experience an orgasm. The “mysterious chamber” or her untouched sexual experiences are compared to the white couch; white representing a cleanliness or innocence. “Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world” (752). Her body is being compared to a lily, whose purpose is to cultivate and grow and bears the right to do so, as part of nature’s on-going cycle of life.

Likewise, Calixta’s body bears the right to experience an orgasm, as a component to the cycle of life. “The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems” (752). The storm had climaxed and was traveling away, similar to the encounter of Calixta and Alcee. Bobinot and Bibi return home to Calixta, who says nothing of what happened that day. Alcee writes to his wife and tells her to stay longer if she would like in Biloxi, and also says nothing as to the events of that day. “So the storm passed and everyone was happy” (753).

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin depicts the story of Mrs. Mallard receiving the troubling news of her husbands’ sudden death from a railroad accident. The use of symbolism is made through connections with nature. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring of life” (Chopin). Mrs. Mallard begins to experience a sensation of a new being. What is expected of her reaction is that of deep sorrow and regret, but in direct contrast, she is reborn. “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully?

she felt it creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air” (Chopin). What was fi nally coming to her was her deserved freedom. She was no longer Mrs. Mallard, but her own individual. She would finally be able to “live for herself? spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin). Unfortunately, the news of her husband’s accident was in itself an accident. In the end of the story, her husband walks through the front door, and in the process Mrs. Mallard “had died of heart disease- of joy that kills” (Chopin).

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

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