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20100119-930 Jewett (Group 1)

Page history last edited by Brian Croxall 10 years, 7 months ago

Summary

In the 19th century, magazines were the major vehicles of Regionalism. Magazines of this time consisted of mainly woman authors because stand-alone publishing was not common for women at the time.  Women were interested in the themes of Regionalism, women's issues and the status of women.  To illustrate the themes of regionalism and the status of women in society, our class first discussed Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron". The three female characters (Sylvia, the grandmother and the cow, Mistress Moolly) get along quite well without any men to protect and provide for them. We also discussed the idea that the only male figure present throughout the story (the sportsman) is a disruptive, destructive force--not the ordered, rational "maleness" of convention. Obviously, symobols such as these throught "A White Heron" that women can hold their own in a world that seems to center around men.  That said, it is also important to recognize the contrasting male character as representative temptation.  The hunter is seen as an intruder within the female landscape, further emphasizing the split between a woman and a man's world.

 

We also talked about the regionalist elements of "The White Heron" as a whole. Things such as the attention to landscape, the specific dialect, and feelings of nostalgia help to qualify the short story as regionalism. Regionalist fiction preserves dialects and oral traditions, which are in an almost constant state of flux, like all living things. So while it is helpful on the one hand to capture and store these things, what is captured is fixed in an unnatural way--not unlike the birds that the hunter kills, stuffs, and puts on display.

 

It should also be recognized that the main character, Sylvia, seems to be representative as connected with nature. There is the relationship between her name and the word silvan, which means forest, and how that underscores her kinship with the animals and comfort in the forest. It seems as if Sylvia is a part of nature itself. She thrives in the country rather than the city and this new "frontier" seems to be a female space.

 

We also took notice of the interesting shift in the narrators voice throughout the story. We discussed that this shift could be a refusal of a masculan voice in story telling or perhaps something else.

 

Word Count: 387

 

Passages

"Everybody said that it was a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm. She thought often with wistful compassion of wretched geranium that belonged to a town neighbor." (pg. 522)

 

This passage, like the one in which Sylvia climbs the tree, likens Sylvia to a wild creature and suggests that had Sylvia remained in the city, she would not have flourished as she does in the rural setting of the story. This pro-pastoral/anti-city sentiment has Regionalism written all over it. It's a commemoration of a way of life supposedly on the way out, one in which (wo)man was in tune with nature. (And one that probably never really existed.)

 

 

"...the thought of the great red-faced boy who used to chase and frighten her made her hurry along the path to escape the shadow of the trees." (523)

 

This passage contributes to the idea that male forces are disruptive and negative in the story.

 

"'Sylvia takes after him,' the grandmother continued affectionately, after a minute's pause. 'There ain't a foot o' ground she don't know her way over, and the wild creaturs counts her one o' themselves. Squer'ls she'll tame to come an' feed right out o' her hands, and all sorts o' birds. Last winter she got the jay-birds to bangeing here, and I believe she'd 'a' scanted herself of her own meals to have plenty to throw out amongst 'em." (524)

 

This passage is an excellent example of how well Sylvia is connected to nature.  She nourishes nature and in return nature responds well to her. Her overall connection to nature is important to the story because that connection is what causes Sylvia to keep the secret of the white heron. Jewett's use of local dialect in the grandmother's speech is also an indicator of regionalism.

 

No, she must keep her silence.  What is it that suddenly forbids her and makes her dumb?” (pg. 528)

 

Jewett is enforcing another idea of Regionalism-preservation.  Sylvia has experienced firsthand the glorious beauty of nature and the white heron causing her to refuse to share it with the hunter.  He would kill the heron, removing it from the great pine tree.  

 

 

 

Key Terms

Regionalism-AKA local color writing. It is often characterized by dialect, oral traditions and focuses on a particular area.

 

Comments (9)

jjernig@... said

at 10:26 pm on Jan 20, 2010

I didn't mean to monopolize the work, group people. Please edit/scrap whatever you like. I added all of this because it didn't look like anyone else had taken the notion to add stuff.

Stephanie Firth said

at 10:54 pm on Jan 20, 2010

I would love to add more, but every time I try someone is editing...

Samantha Hoffman said

at 11:19 pm on Jan 20, 2010

Sorry that was me. Feel free to add or delete whatever. :)

Stephanie Firth said

at 11:25 pm on Jan 20, 2010

Good call on defining Regionalism!

Brian Croxall said

at 10:34 pm on Jan 26, 2010

This is a good first set of notes. Your summary covers some of the context of our discussion of regionalism, female authors, and magazines, but it doesn't only spend time doing this. I'm especially glad that you included the meta-discussion of regionalism. The summary could be improved with a bit of editing. For example, the authors don't write about the trend of regionalism. Instead, the contribute to the body of work. And women are not the primary consumers of magazines because women are the authors. If anything, the causality should be reversed here. I also find it humorous that "We agreed that we had found some pretty overt symbology," but that this symbology is not actually named in your notes. Oxymoron much? Finally, I'm not sure if we can say that Sylvy's name is a connection to regionalism so much as it is to nature. If it were characteristic of regionalism, that would imply that this was a name that was only used in this portion of the country.

Likewise, in your passages, I do not think that we can say that Sylvy's not thriving in the city is a symbol of regionalism. After all, it is possible to have regionalism that takes place in cities (although I didn't have us read any of it). Again, it is more a connection of Sylvy's to nature. Still, this is a good passage. I'm a bit surprised with the second that you didn't discuss the strange shift in narrative voice in this passage, since that is where we spent a little bit of time at the end of class. I can imagine several other passages as well that you might have included: the red-faced boy, moments of dialect. While you've met the requirements, it might be worthwhile to use all 3 passages so as to be prepared for exams.

Finally, I'm very glad that you included a definition of regionalism in these notes. Since no one was taking notes for the first day of regionalsm, it is good to get these in here.

Brian Croxall said

at 10:34 pm on Jan 26, 2010

I was glad to see you using the comments with one another. If you are the first person to arrive to the wiki, make sure that you don't do everything for the group--as scary as that might feel. Moreover, make sure that you are contributing to the assignment.

Samantha Hoffman said

at 2:14 pm on Jan 27, 2010

The new passages are great but I think we really need to add in the page numbers to go along with them so that they can be more effective to the class. :)

Samantha Hoffman said

at 2:15 pm on Jan 27, 2010

Oops! Nevermind, I just looked at the page wrong they are already there!

Brian Croxall said

at 9:26 pm on Feb 2, 2010

I've just looked at your revised notes for January 19. You've made some changes to the content based on my comments. Parts of the summary read much more clearly now. There are several problems that have crept in, however, as far as observing the requirements of the assignment. The word count for the summary is now 387 words, which is well above 300, and you use four passages instead of the allowed three. Finally, there are a number of grammar/sentence errors throughout. You'll want to avoid those in the future.

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