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After supper, he explains that he collects birds - kills and stuffs them - and that he wants particularly to find a white heron, rare to the area, that he had glimpsed only a few miles away.He offers ten dollars to anyone who might help him find its nest.Her tale begins when the unexpected breaks into her life - a young hunter whistles and emerges from the shadows into her pathway.
Sometimes this victory is accompanied by a mystical vision that shows the hero something of the life-creating energy of all existence (40-1).
The third part of the hero's story is the "Return." Because of his victory, he now has a "boon" to bestow upon those he has left behind (30).
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).
"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.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).When Sarah Orne Jewett wrote these words to a friend, the Atlantic Monthly had rejected her story "A White Heron," and she was puzzled about its artistic merit.But after it appeared in a collection of her stories in 1886, it immediately attracted compliments from friends and fellow writers.Sylvia's heart beats wildly, for not only would the ten dollars buy "many wished-for treasures," but she has herself seen the same white heron.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 trip back to his homeland can be arduous, but once back he has a choice and a problem.He can withhold or bestow his boon, whatever he wants (193).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).