Where the Red Fern Grows, A Review

Where the Red Fern Grows, A Review - 1 Where the Red Fern...

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Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls reveals a world that has all but vanished today, a rural America still untouched by modern life in the 1930s. One is given an image of the finer details of the struggles endured by many families during the Great Depression in the Oklahoma Ozarks. The reader learns early on that life was different then – family units learned to work together, most people were satisfied with having just food and shelter, and animals were viewed as a commodity rather than an outlet for entertainment. But, even when the relationship between people and animals were generally viewed as a work relationship, nowhere do any of the characters discount the tight bond between a man and animal which ensues. The ethical issue at hand, as shown through Billy is the responsibility of humans to care for, protect, and respect the animals they interact with. Likewise, it is demonstrated that through these animals, one may grow to develop his or her personality and find a deeper purpose to life beyond the immediate circumstances. The protagonist of the book, Billy, a bright ten year old boy giving hope to those around him is an archetype that, like the world he inhabits, is virtually extinct, except in literature. His long term goal is to pursue the American dream. The means by which he plans to obtain these goals also accomplish his immediate dream to be the owner of two Bloodhound dogs. Billy desire for hunting dogs so he could hunt and sell raccoon skins initially seemed like an unlikely dream because of the financial troubles in his family. But, with the encouragement of his grandfather, Billy takes on the challenge to realize his dream through hard work. His perseverance and hard work pay off two years later when he earns the money to buy a pair of dogs. The dedication Billy devotes to buying his dogs is a prime example of the central theme of the determination to fulfill ones dreams. These details of how 1
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Billy earns and saves his money serve to demonstrate Billy’s ethics. By seeing his persistence and his willingness to do hard things, we learn that he is full of determination. But, much of the determination to realize Billy’s deeper goals stem from the growing relationship he has to the dogs. Billy names the male Old Dan and the female Little Ann. To him, these dogs are not just hunting dogs; they are companions and true friends. As he teaches the dogs to hunt, the bond between them grow strong. The dogs in turn teach Billy respect and admiration for animals. An example where this is shown is when Billy accepts a challenge from Ruben and Rainie Pritchard to catch the legendary “ghost coon”. When the raccoon is caught, Billy feels admiration and respects the large raccoon for its age and does not want to kill it. But, when the Pritchard’s want to go through with it against Billy’s wishes both dogs defend Billy and try to stop them. This is a testament to the strong relationship that has been established between the dogs and Billy. The Pritchard boys never imagined that the dogs were capable such a thing
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Where the Red Fern Grows, A Review - 1 Where the Red Fern...

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