Posts Tagged ‘money’

Gender and age in “A White Heron”

In Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron” we see a sharp contrast between female and male’s respect toward nature. Additionally, age plays a factor in the manner in which the young her and the hunter treat nature.

Sylvia, the young girl who ran into the hunter, has a love for the birds in her area. Her grandmother tells the hunter that one of the bird’s he speaks of is “Sylvy’s” acquaintance. The girl speaks of them and treats them as friends. When the hunter ask if she has any knowledge of a white heron, which he plans to shoot and add to his stuffed bird collection, she tells him she does not know of its whereabouts.  While the man tells the girl of his admiration towards the birds, “she could not understand why he killed the very birds he seemed to like so much” (12).

Sylvia expresses her love for nature and it’s creatures by protecting them and acting in a motherly way. She goes to the tree where she knows the heron lives and does not dare scare it or harm it. Instead she sits still and watches it’s motions.

The hunter, on the other hand, takes a much more masculine approach. He shows his “love” for nature by collecting the birds he is fascinated with and keeping them.

Keeping dead nature is almost like visiting an exhibit.  All that is shown is set up in a convenient and idealized manner. Nothing is in its natural environment, roaming at its own will and acting in it’s natural way.

The hunter shoots the birds for his own personal desires and even offers the young girl money to bring him to the bird so that he may shoot it. Like we see in many other pieces of work, nature is used as an economic resource. Everything in it is taken to be used for human advantage.  Sylvia, meanwhile, neglects the money that she said would have made them “rich.” She puts nature and her connection with it over greedy wants.


Jewett, Sarah Orne. A White Heron and Other Stories. Ch./Art: Ch 1 & 2 p. 12-13. pub. Houghton Mifflin Company 1886


Judith Plant’s compelling quote!

“What remains valuable in mainstream society, and deep within our beings, has a dollar sign attached to it, and generally has nothing to do with home. In fact, home is more and more being sacrificed for economic ends. What is important goes on in the public sphere- politics and economics- and a person’s worth is gauged in monetary terms. Within this ideology, domestic life has meant that some are subservient to others; traditionally this has been women, as slaves, servants and wives. Children quickly learn that what goes on at home is unimportant compared to the values out there” (Judith Plant 23).

Money is the exchange of paper and coins. The purpose of money is to facilitate the lives of human beings when it comes to complex methods of economic gain to as simple as buying goods.  Barter, which is the method of exchanging or trading one good for another is inefficient because people do not meet eye to eye when trading. For example, I go to the market and I have one chicken. I am in need of vegetables. My neighbor has three pounds of lettuce and broccoli. I say my chicken has more value than three pounds of vegetable, but my neighbor disagrees and therefore we both leave unhappy; unless we compromise. Over the years money has been seen as an “evil” tool to cheat, corrupt, and exploit Earth’s natural resources. According to the Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10, says the root of all evil is the love for money.  Politics is about who get what. Therefore, people who are in love with money may go to extremes as to put a monetary value to life, family, and happiness.

Thinking about the Recession we’ve been in simply surprises me that people will work two or three jobs to pay for their mortgage but do not fight to keep their family, their home in order. I have noticed that the value of human beings has diminished. Yes, women are able to vote and work alongside men. Yes, African Americans are no longer enslaved, and yes, Latinos are allowed to migrate to the most powerful Country, the United Sates. However, my concern goes to those unborn babies. China, for example, has a one child policy. Therefore, males are preferred and when most families find out that they are going to have a female daughter the either abort or give the baby up to adoption. However, what many people do not realize is that most girls and women in Europe and Asia that are left to fend for themselves are sold as sex slaves. Over population is a problem but massacring innocent babies is not the answer… Children are the future and if we don’t pay attention to their input then I think we are headed in a selfish and dangerous direction.

The only solution I see if for individuals who recognize that they have an unhealthy relationship with money, seek help, and then find a way to bless others. I understand that this proposition is easier said than done. However, collectively we all have to make an effort to bring back the value of human beings and the value of “home” and diminish the love for money. Once we die we are not going to take our degree, our property, or the money in our bank account. Judith Plat’s quote is a call to action. Once people see how corrupt the love of money can transform people’s lives in a negative way maybe then will they turn their lives back around!


Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader.Ch./Art: REvaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground:
Evofeminism and Bioregionalism p. 21-23, 79-82. pub. New Society Publishers 1990