Sarah Orne Jewett's Miss Tempy's Watchers

Sarah Orne Jewett's Miss Tempy's Watchers

Length: 1325 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Sarah Orne Jewett's Miss Tempy's Watchers


Sarah Orne Jewett was born in Berwick, Maine, 275 miles away from Oakfield, where my grandmother lives. Jewett’s story, “Miss Tempy’s Watchers,” takes place in a small farming town in New Hampshire, yet as I read the story for the first time, I was certain it took place in the small northern Maine town, and my grandmother was a subject of the author’s study. Jewett makes use of the dialect New England is known for by following very broad rules as well as the pickiest details one might never notice unless one were looking with ultimate scrutiny or from personal experience.

Jewett chose certain phrase structure to make her characters’ speech genuine. Sarah Ann Binson, one of Miss Tempy’s watchers, describes how Tempy “never did like to hear folks goin’ about themselves.” To some this phrase may be foreign, but to an older New Englander it means to speak of oneself braggingly. Another syntactic trait of the speech is the frequent regularization of verb forms. Mrs. Crowe, the other watcher, says, “Tempy come right up after they rode by,” and Sarah Ann later asks if Mrs. Crowe made cupcakes “while you was home to-day.” These are both obvious grammatical errors, but the two women were only trying to make sense of a very complicated set of rules. To two women of middle and upper-middle class who are not particularly familiar with a true upper class where the English language is treated with greater care, they were only speaking in a manner that seemed most natural. Something else worth mentioning is when Sarah Ann asks Mrs. Crows if she remembers a certain girl. Mrs. Crowe answers, “Certain,” and Sarah goes on about her. A stickler for grammatical perfection would insist she say, “Certainly,” or at least, “For certain,” but in the New England dialect of the older generation, there is nothing wrong with just “certain.”

Sarah Ann Binson, the less wealthy of the two watchers, uses the word “ain’t,” but Mrs. Crow, the one of slightly higher class, never lowers herself to such unsophisticated speech. Sarah Ann also adopts a typically Acadian dialect (owing to her location in a New Hampshire farming area) when she tells of how Tempy once said, “I’m only a-gettin’ sleepier and sleepier.” The reader can’t be sure if it is a direct quote or if the structure is her own, but it is clear it is not entirely foreign to their ears.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Sarah Orne Jewett's Miss Tempy's Watchers." 123HelpMe.com. 27 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=105645>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A White Heron By Sarah Orne Jewett Essay

- Young love , a thrilling time for many . A time in where blinded young-lings cross a field unknown . A field in which one must undergo challenges and temptations . Here we have a young girl that encounters a young man , a typical boy meets girl scenarios , So it would seem . The desire to be loved can drive a person to do the craziest of things ; we are all walking proof of that . As young children one learns to express emotion through every gesture and every facial expression , through that process one realizes ones self hatred with rejection ....   [tags: Woman, Girl, Female, Sarah Orne Jewett]

Research Papers
1281 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about The Rural Privilege in A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett

- The Rural Privilege in A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron" is a brilliant story of an inquisitive young girl named Sylvia. Jewett's narrative describes Sylvia's experiences within the mystical and inviting woods of New England. I think a central theme in "A White Heron" is the dramatization of the clash between two competing sets of values in late nineteenth-century America: industrial and rural. Sylvia is the main character of the story. We can follow her through the story to help us see many industrial and rural differences....   [tags: Papers White Heron Jewett Essays]

Research Papers
2003 words (5.7 pages)

"The White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett: Nature Essay

- When people really take their time to look at the beautiful world around them, and take it in, it is hard not to be amazed. “A White Heron,” a classic short story written by Sarah Orne Jewett, uses nature as an essential key element to the theme. Sylvia, the main character, is very relatable. In fact, the story is written in such a way that the reader would likely share similar thoughts with Sylvia. For instance, the reader and Sylvia both love nature and think of it as their companion. However, while both Sylvia and the reader have a love for humans, it is to a lesser extent....   [tags: nature, sylvia, symbolism]

Research Papers
974 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Innocence: The White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett

- "Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it" (Baldwin). All experiences spring out of innocence. Sarah Orne Jewett expresses this through the story “The White Heron.” She uses the story to show how easily innocence can be influenced. "For Jewett, it seems to have been a personal 'myth' that expressed her own experience and the experience of other women in the nineteenth century who had similar gifts, aspirations, and choices" (Griffith). Her personal experiences include her living in Maine with her dad and two sisters....   [tags: innocence, sylvia, experience]

Research Papers
1201 words (3.4 pages)

Inspired By Author, Harriet Beecher, Sarah Orne Jewett Wrote, A White Heron

- ... Jewett was just beginning and her description of the land around her, and as the story progresses the details become more specific to her local region. For instance, in chapter two of A White Heron, Sylvia mentions a tall pine, which if climbed to the top, one would see the ocean. This is a fantastic example of topography coming into Jewett’s writing. She mentions the ocean, forrest, a hill that the tree sits on, and the specific kind of tree, a pine. Each of these individually would not make up color writing but once they are all pieced together they create an environment so familiar to Jewett and those who know the coast of Maine well....   [tags: topography, nature, religion]

Research Papers
888 words (2.5 pages)

The Symbolism of Innocence and Nature in Essay

- “A White Heron,” a short story by Sarah Orne Jewett depicts and allows the reader to explore the loss of innocence individual’s go through both spiritually and physically. Jewett fills the story with symbolism that captures Sylvia’s lapsarian fall and her own personal discoveries about life, humanity, and goodness. This is not to be mistaken for simply a story of a girl entering into sexual awareness; it is also about the defilement of nature by man as represented by the ornithologist and Sylvia, and the moral struggles with the coming of age of a young girl....   [tags: white heron, sarah jewett, sexual awareness]

Research Papers
891 words (2.5 pages)

Femininity against Masculinity in A White Heron Essay

- Since its first appearance in the 1886 collection A White Heron and Other Stories, the short story A White Heron has become the most favorite and often anthologized of Sarah Orne Jewett. Like most of this regionalist writer's works, A White Heron was inspired by the people and landscapes in rural New England, where, as a little girl, she often accompanied her doctor father on his visiting patients. The story is about a nine-year-old girl who falls in love with a bird hunter but does not tell him the white heron's place because her love of nature is much greater....   [tags: Sarah Orne Jewett]

Research Papers
1703 words (4.9 pages)

The Murder of Helen Jewett by Patricia Cline Cohen Essay

- The Murder of Helen Jewett by Patricia Cline Cohen      In The Murder of Helen Jewett, Patricia Cohen uses one of the most trivial murders during the 1800’s to illustrate the sexiest society accommodations to the privileged, hypocritical tunneled views toward sexual behavior, and the exploitation of legal codes, use of tabloid journalism, and politics. Taking the fact that woman was made from taking a rib from man was more than biblical knowledge, but incorporated into the male belief that a woman’s place is determined by the man....   [tags: Murder Helen Jewett Cohen Essays]

Research Papers
1471 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall

- Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall By telling you the story, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan portrays the importance of family and allows you to see that by through a little bit of hope and wishing your happiness can be fulfilled. She shows you how personal sacrifices occur when forming a successful family. Overall, this book provides insight on how powerful and meaningful family life can be. In Sarah, Plain and Tall the concept of family is the base on which the book is written....   [tags: Patricia MacLachlan Sarah Plain and Tall]

Free Essays
601 words (1.7 pages)

SO Jewett Nature Essay

- SO Jewett Nature The Conception of Nature and its Relationship to Gender in S.O. Jewett^Òs story "A White Heron." "Nature, in the common sense, refers to the essences unchanged by man^Å" From the very first steps of the new settlers on the American continent, its uncivilized nature, full of smell of the forests, of freshness of the air, and of almost prelapsarian variety of flora and fauna, came to be associated with unlimited wilderness....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
1443 words (4.1 pages)

Through the two ladies we also learn that “folks” can have three meanings; one, it can mean people in general, as in “she never did like to hear folks goin’ about themselves;” two, it can mean parents, as in “…[he] didn’t take time to stop and think about his folks;” and three, it can mean family, as in “…my brother’s folks had been stopping here in the summer.” I am familiar with all of these meanings and often use them myself, but they are not limited to Maine because one can hear them anywhere from Fort Kent to Boston. Another lexical indicator of the dialect, though maybe not immediately identifiable with the New England dialect is the quantity “sight,” as in “a sight of toys” or “a sight o’ things to bring over.” Clearly, a “sight” is a large amount, possibly associated with a degree of exaggeration, but Webster’s Dictionary marks it as “chiefly dialect,” and the Oxford Dictionary doesn’t recognize it at all. Mrs. Crowe says of the toys Miss Tempy mended and distributed that she made the children happy with “every blessed one.” Surely the toys were not actually blessed by the church or a higher power, but this interjectory adjective is common throughout New England. Even now, I can hear my grandmother, in a dry and eerily stereotypical northern Maine way, saying something like “a blessed sight of junk,” and I know Jewett wasn’t pulling the dialect from out of nowhere, but from hours and hours of careful study.

The phonological traits employed by Jewett abound. She replaces one vowel sound for another, as in “forgit” and “stiddy” (for “forget” and “steady”), and she does the very opposite switch in “sperited” for “spirited.” Mrs. Crowe shows that she is not above some simplification when she says, “I used to tell her ‘t wa’n’t right.” She takes “it wasn’t right,” and makes one syllable out of it, a pattern not uncommon in my own grandmother’s speech and the speech of others around me, though mostly members of the older generation. Both women drop the final phoneme in the word “and” and end up with something more like /æn/ than /ænd/. Jewett also drops the /v/ in the word “of” so that all is left is “o’.” Another common trait in several dialects that is also used in “Miss Tempy’s Watchers” is monophthongization of certain sounds. The word “point” is cut to “p’int” (the /ɔy/ diphthong is replaced by the single vowel sound /I/). In the name “Daniel,” the glide is removed altogether, and he is left with a name that sounds like /dænəl/. Perhaps the most common trait, though, is the one most predominantly used in the following passage (which also shows the use of “o’”):

"I know that old Dr. Prince said once, in evenin’ meetin’, that he’d watched by many a dyin’ bed, as we well knew, and enough o’ his sick folks had been scared o’ dyin’ their whole lives through; but when they come to the last, he’d never seen one but was willin’, and most were glad, to go. ‘’T is as natural as bein’ born or livin’ on,’ he said."

The replacing of /n/ for /ŋ/ is popular in so many dialects it is impossible to say whose trait it really is, but in New England one is guaranteed to hear it, even among the most educated of citizens.

There are two final details in Sarah Orne Jewett’s story that I must point out for their unique quality in the New England dialect and mentality. The first is the use of the term “Trevor girl.” Sarah Ann says, “It was that pretty-looking Trevor girl.” “Trevor” has no special meaning, but is simply the girl’s last name. In New England a name is an important possession by which a person is often judged, and in a small town, there is probably only one “Trevor girl,” so both women know exactly who she is. On more occasions than anyone could possibly count, I have heard my grandmother identify someone in the area just as Sarah Ann does. When my family gets together family names are tossed about in reminiscence, and it is clear to see that the importance remains. The last detail is that Mrs. Crowe throws in the fact that her “brother’s folks had been stopping here in the summer, from Massachusetts.” In a small town in northern New England, Massachusetts is certainly a kind of foreign land, and it would be somewhat impressive to know that someone was from so far away. Being from a rural Maine town with a grandmother in a very northerly Maine town, I have had personal experience with the intrigue of such a “foreign land.” My grandmother can’t understand why I would ever want to move away and live in “the city,” but there is still an interest in the different lifestyle. When she wrote the story, Jewett clearly understood the dialect well enough that she could include these details, though not particularly dialectical, but important parts of the speech nonetheless.

Jewett has written not only a very special story, but by mastering the dialect of her region of the United States, she has written a remarkable sample of exactly what it means to speak like a New Englander. Her careful use of syntactic, morphological, and phonological traits, as well as a couple minute details, shows that she is not only a talented writer but a careful student of dialect.
Return to 123HelpMe.com