A White Heron’s loophole: Silence is GOLDEN!

Jewett’s short story, “A White Heron” provides one main loophole surrounding the character Sylvia. Her ability as a young girl to befriend a stranger is very bold, but at the same time, very welcoming. Sylvia approach by the stranger leaves her with one struggling question, should she give up the white heron and gain the stranger’s money and friendship? Or should she let the white heron go? Significantly, the question that is presented to the nine year old Sylvia becomes a question of her loophole. This would be her chance to determine her way of escaping some aspect of her; her way of letting go something.

It is Sylvia’s silence that ultimately becomes her loophole. The story goes on to explain, “But Sylvia does not speak after all, though the old grandmother fretfully rebukes her, and the young man’s kind, appealing eyes are looking straight in her own. 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,” in order to say that Sylvia is in charge of her own life. She has a life changing opportunity to tell the stranger where the white heron is, but it is her silence that ultimately becomes golden. She keeps in silence because her conscience that allows her to ponder about the end result of the situation.

Sylvia’s silence is what makes her escape because the stranger eventually leaves empty handed and the white heron remains. She is just nine years old and having to put in a position of an adult in many ways throughout the story, especially in the decision she made. Therefore, her silence allows her to remain a youth in the end of the story. Instead of using words, she uses her mind, which could be the way she finds that loophole to escape from the things around her and the things she’s seen. Ultimately, Sylvia remains Sylvia, meaning she doesn’t evolve into a different person because of her choices.


“…and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact”

The quote, “and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact”, shows a sign of resistance in many words to slavery by Frederick Douglass. In this quote, I believe that the author Frederick Douglass saying that for the time being of him being a slave, however long that is, he will never succumb to always being labeled or called a slave. He will not be confined to the expectations of slavery and will not acknowledge being a slave as his identity anymore.

Throughout his narrative, Frederick Douglass discusses many ways which he has being physically, spiritually and mentally broken. After being transferred to the work under Mr. Covey, Frederick Douglass stood up to him and vowed to never be beaten again. At this point, he didn’t know when slavery was going to be abolished (slave in form), but he knew that there would be a time in where not let his slave servitude become him (slave in fact). In his

In him showing resistance and standing up to Mr. Covey, he made it clear that he was smarter than what they made him out to be. Frederick Douglass learned the importance of education and the power it has. He learned that slavery did not have to be his destiny – his life. In a way, he’s stating that he is strong and will not be killed. In relation to the rest of the narrative, Douglass talks about moving from one slave master to another and then continuing to break him. With his spirit, he continued to be determined not be let his slave conditions defined him. He proved to them that he is smarter than they think and he will continue to stand up to them, which made him very resistant, but for the right reasons. As time went on, he refused to let his mind stay in that state of superior vs. inferior. He made sure that he made it to freedom and made it with pride.

It’s even more interesting to note that in the time when his narrative was published, slavery in some states was still in effect. However, this continues to prove that Douglas could have still been a slave, but he was mentally free. This quote brings out this dichotomy of free and enslaved. I think what Douglass is also trying to say is that any slave in that time could be physically enslaved and beaten, but mentally, any one of them could have been free. When Douglass stood up to Mr. Covey, he may not have been freed as a slave, but he was, in a way, free in his mind. He made that choice to not be enslaved entirely. I think it’s powerful that Douglass fought to make himself free not only physically, but mentally and spiritually.

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of this world”

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of this world” – Walt Whitman [Leaves of Grass]

In the second to the last line of Whitman’s poem, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of this world,” he shows somewhat of passion and slight disdain for the world in which he lives in. Throughout the poem, Whitman goes through many different paradoxes and dichotomies in the different elements of the world and his distinctive way of viewing the natural state. Through many different parts, Whitman focuses on one aspect of life, such as birth, happiness, etc. and analyzes it to where he is not sure of whether he should accept everything that comes with that specific topic. Whitman poses multiple questions to prompt readers to think about behaviors, patterns, feelings, and thoughts that wouldn’t normally come to mind.

In the end of the poem, it seems that Whitman is saying he is screaming a cry for help to the top of his lungs. In my opinion, Whitman, as described throughout his poem, is facing a lot and he wants to make sense of everything; he wants answers to every question that life throws at us. However, he is having a hard time grasping onto what he already has in this world and what he does choose to either accept or deny. I look at his ending as a plea for salvation; a plea for assistance into surviving in this world. He describe his call or cry as “barbaric”, meaning that it’s not just any cry, rather, it’s a nasty one at that. His use of imagery is profound because we can imagine Whitman screaming distastefully and “ugly”. This goes to show readers that he is really suffering and he has a lot of pain inside him. He needs help and support to continue on.

Another thought that came to mind when analyzing this line was Whitman universality in people. He says “…of this world.” meaning that he is not only calling attention to people in his region, but to everyone around the globe. This adds the effect of his distinctive plea because he’s thinking of others and he wants everyone to hear him. This also goes to show that he is serious and that it’s urgent. He wants everyone to understand him; he wants them to see what he’s seeing and hear what he’s hearing. From understanding other parts of this poem, Whitman wants readers to sympathize with him and to fully understand the world in which they live in. To me, it seems that he wants us to know that concepts around his socially and culturally aren’t just simple, instead, they’re extraordinary and sometimes complex. Even we ourselves need to make a cry of help sometimes when we are sinking and have lost hope. In fact, maybe that is something we should do often.  

Whitman’s Song of Myself – Page 17

“Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.  (page 17). As said by Whitman profound words of wisdom, in my opinion, poses a question of life and death and its meaning to us as readers. I think these two lines are very interesting in many ways because Whitman asks us if it is lucky to be born; but, on one hand, can we know if it is lucky to be born when, as a baby, we are in the womb? On the other hand, I think that first line raises a rhetorical question to us as young adults. How do we know if it is lucky to be born? Whitman wants us to stick with that question and think about all of life’s great attributes. He wants us to ponder over what we have now and answer why we are indeed lucky to be born.

In his second line, Whitman indicates that he would rather answer the question for his readers, in saying that if you are lucky to be born, then you must also be lucky to die. I believe Whitman allows us to think about this because he wants us to know that if there is good, there is also bad. I liked that he creates somewhat of a stream of consciousness for not only him, but for us as well. In certain situations in our life, we have amazing moments. For example, in a relationship, we sometimes find ourselves lucky and grateful to be with a special someone that can provide something amazing for us. We are awed and amazed to feel special. However, at the same time, sometimes there is fighting that makes you wish you weren’t in the relationship. With something good, like birth, something bad or negative comes with it, like death.

With this in mind, I think this is what Whitman can also be referring to. With all good things, comes something bad. We may be in situations in where we feel like he we can’t handle it anymore and we are ready to give up. Whitman may not be referring to a physical death, but it definitely is a symbol. In reference to the text, these lines fit in perfectly because I believe Whitman is talking to himself in assuring him that in our lives, we face a lot of good things and bad things. Throughout his long poem, he is reflecting on himself and his relationship with society.

Lastly, Whitman last few words in these liens were, “… and I know it.” This time, Whitman’s language becomes even more profound. He mentions of death and how it is lucky to be dead, but he also knows what that feels like. His language goes to show that he is metaphorically speaking about death, while at the same time, it is ambiguous. When he talks about hi knowing what death means, it could imply that he has been or is currently in a situation or period in his life where something just isn’t working out for him. He could either be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually dead. He has a hit a roadblock in his life where he feels lifeless. I loved this type of speech from Whitman because it permits me to think harder and dig deeper into his words. I also really liked it due to the fact that we can relate to it in our lives today. It’s something that’s authentic by all means.

The American Scholar

“I have now spoken of the education of the scholar by nature, by books, and by action. It remains to say somewhat of his duties.” These words were said by Ralph Waldo Emerson in giving his speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge in 1837. In this line, we now grasp the understanding of the roles of the scholar; what his position is and what he is to do in society. Throughout the oration, Emerson gives us many indications as to why education is important, but at the same time, ways in which it can be attained. In discussing nature, Emerson dictates that we can learn a lot of education. It even makes this quote more challenging because nature is only mentioned once in it, and we infer his thoughts on nature through previous passages. Nonetheless, he explains that nature can allow us to be ourselves; it can allow us to create imagination and think critically about many things, in my opinion. Nature can also proven to not only be beneficial for our educational concerns, but also our physical concern.

The education by books mentioned is referring to what books can give a scholar in our society. By this, Emerson also adds on in also previous passages that books won’t really serve us any justice. Books, in comparison to nature, can only allow us so much and limits our imagination. It doesn’t really teaches a scholar to think critically and open his mind. However, this is a little challenging to me because I would think he would say the opposite. As scholars, we all read books and in every class we have in our undergraduate and graduate education, we will have to read a couple books. So, then, why is he discouraging us from not putting our trust in books?

Lastly, he talks about by action. Now, in this sentence, it makes it complication because it is somewhat hard to infer what action Emerson is referring to. As a matter of fact, he spoke about many different actions that a scholar can take in his education journey. In my opinion, the word “Action” is ambiguous because he really goes to specifics of words and action is just a broad term.

Emerson ends the sentence with the duties of the scholar. He states that education by us scholars can be exhumed through nature, books and/or action. However, it’s a little confusing when he says duties because he implies that as scholars, we are suppose to soak up education through these methods. In contrary, he somewhat discouraged books so why should that be in one of our duties? As scholars, why do we even have duties? His language in this sentence is refined, yet broad at the same time. Education can be consumed through many ways so why only three ways and if we don’t follow those three ways, are we not really scholars? Such questions probe me into thinking more about this, especially when education is being taught differently than opposed to 1837.


bienvenido a mi mundo

Hey guys, I’m Etsil, but everyone calls me pretzel.  I was born and raised in Belize, Central America (26th smallest country in the world. Geographically slightly larger than the state of Massachusets). I moved to LA in 2008 and moved to SF  in 2012 for school. I wanted y’all to know that because culture is very big into my life and I value ethnicity, values and people. My major is English Literature with a minor in Race and Resistance Studies (Ethnic Studies). I speak some Yucatec Mayan, some Garifuna, some Spanish, English and Belizean Creole.  I’m a junior and plan to graduate in four years.  I plan to teach English, in whatever country and/or in whatever city. I love literature because it allows me to create a thoughtful and imaginative space to express myself, in the means of writing.I would one day also like to go back to my home country and teach my people about the strong effects of literature. Holla at me if you ever want to talk about that kind of stuff, or any kind of stuff in general.