Moral Integrity in "A White Heron" and "Barn Burning" Comparison Essay by Wicked Googly

Moral Integrity in "A White Heron" and "Barn Burning"
A comparative analysis of William Faulkner's "Barn Burning" and Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron".
# 103332 | 2,690 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on May 04, 2008 in Literature (American) , Child, Youth Issues (General)

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This paper compares two short stories, "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner and "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett, which both explore the challenges of young children who must rapidly mature and make tough decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. The paper maintains that the stories highlight the complexity of the issues faced by each child, issues that are exacerbated when one takes into account their tender age and uncorrupted views on society. The paper argues that, while both stories share the common thread of conflicting forces clouding the judgment of an innocent child, they differ substantially in terms of the magnitude of the dilemmas faced, as well as the focus of the dilemma. The paper concludes that, despite the different conflicts the protagonists face, the exercise, though difficult, makes them better prepared when launched into a new and unfamiliar world.

From the Paper:

"In contrast with Sarty's plight, Sylvy's conflict is much more subtle and internal, impacting fewer people in the bright picturesque rural landscape. While Sylvy deals with a similar conflict in that a young child must mature quickly and make a decision they may not be ready to make, her conflict is more about her and less about others as it is in "Barn Burning." The small number of characters in the text combined with Jewett's choice of not giving the sportsman a name places the focus primarily on Sylvy. While her grandmother influences her to lead the hunter to the white heron for the $10, Sylvia is not hit in the face by her blood in order to influence her decision. While Sylvy's blood is disappointed at not getting the $10, the decision is ultimately left to Sylvy. Her decision, which only has mild consequences relative to that of Sarty's, allows her to grow by learning the real strength of her moral character. In contrast, Sarty was forced to betray his family in order to do the right thing, which meant he had to face the world alone, a much more frightening prospect than realizing one has a strong moral character at the expense of losing a potential friend and $10. In short, Sarty was dealing with bigger issues, though the decision to do the right thing was similar. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Faulkner, William. "Barn Burning." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 2178-2190.
  • Jewett, Sarah O. "A White Heron." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 1587-1594.A

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