Where the Red Fern Grows Summary

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls portrays the relationship between resolution of a person and the bonding with a dog. The writer tries to show how these two aspects are very closely related through a series of events that takes place in the protagonist’s life. The adventures that unfold through the story adds to the values of trust and companionship which the protagonist shares with his dogs. The most determined character in the novel is portrayed by Old Dan, the dog. Because of his raw bravery with a hint of naivety, Old Dan sets his mind to something and focuses solely on that no matter what. The story starts off with Billy wanting to get puppies, but because they are extremely expensive, his request had been refused by his father. Determined to get the puppies he wanted, Billy starts to work very hard to earn the money himself and pay for the purchase. He sells fruits and vegetables for two years in order to collect money for the puppies. His determination pays off once he earns the required amount and gives them to his grandfather for the puppies. Billy didn’t want his Papa to know about the purchase so he had asked his grandfather to buy them for him. Later he goes to his grandfather’s place at night to pick them up from the town and bring them home. The dogs were everything that Billy had wanted. They were the most loved creatures for Billy which he had longed to own for a while. He named the dogs Old Dan and Little Anne. While on his way from the town to his house, he had decided to sleep in a cave since it was already too late. Upon hearing a lion howling at a distance, he noticed how Old Dan had responded to the noise by howling back very fast. He recognized the courage that Old Dan had in his nature. It was very evident to him that while Old Dan was very courageous yet naive, Little Anne was very smart as she did not immediately respond to a threat until fully analyzing the situation. After he had gotten the dogs home, he decided to train them with raccoons. But before that, he had to catch a raccoon himself so that he could hide it with him and train the dogs accordingly. His grandfather then showed him a neat way of catching even the slyest of the raccoons. However, a long time had passed since Billy had caught any so he had almost given up until the very last minute, when he actually does. With the raccoon in his hand, he knew that he could start his training with the dogs as soon as possible.

The next day he decided to start the training and until fall came, which was peak time for the raccoons, the dogs were trained to perfection. The first mission that the dogs have is finding a coon in the biggest and tallest sycamore tree. This becomes a task since the tree was huge and it would not have been easy for Billy to get the raccoon. He had promised his dogs that if they are successful in keeping the coon in the tree that he will be able to cut down the tree and since it would take more than a few days, it was vital for the coon in the tree so that it does not escape. Hence, Billy spends nights trying to bring down the tree along with the teamwork from his dogs who had constantly watched over the coon. His grandfather had also given him a tip on making a scarecrow and installing it near the tree so Billy could go back home for a while for supper. After a few days of hard work, the sycamore finally fell and they were able to capture the raccoon. Billy’s determination had once again shown results. Billy had a passion for hunting. He did not keep the raccoon skins to sell for himself but gave it away to his grandfather and the money he had gotten was handed over to his father. He had no greed for money, all he wanted to do was hunt. And with the trustworthy canines on his side, he had been more enthusiastic about hunting than ever. Because of this, his father had let him off some chores so that he could spend more time hunting. Billy hence continued to hunt raccoons every day with his dogs. His passionate drive for hunting had gained Billy some good recognition amongst the townspeople. His grandfather had enrolled his name into a town’s hunting competition. This competition, although extremely challenging, was won by Billy and his talented and sharp dogs. In addition, Little Anne had also won the best good-looking dog contest as well. The competition had earned Billy over 300 dollars which had overjoyed his family members. Along with the regular hunting which Billy used to do so efficiently because of the dogs, the financial state of his family had become quite stable. His sister was able to get an education.

The dogs shared an equal passion for hunting as Billy, which was seen through Billy’s determination and teamwork with his dogs. The task was not always easy. Some raccoons outsmarted Old Dan, getting him in trouble which Billy had to sort out. He had once gotten badly stuck in a hole while the raccoons had derailed him. Another time, Old Dan had gotten up a tree and that was pretty daunting since a fall would have injurious. At these times, Billy had to intervene. Unlike Old Dan, Little Ann hardly got into any trouble. As mentioned before, she was a little too smart. She was not easily tricked and she had a very sharp sense of judgement which made her think very rationally. However, one day, she did get into trouble by falling into the icy river. That was an almost fatal incident from which Billy barely rescued her. Right after the hunting competition had ended, they all had set out to hunt for a mountain lion. But alas, they were attacked by one which did not result in anything good. The dogs fought bravely against the giant mountain lion who had initially attacked Billy. After a good fight, they had finally been able to defeat the lion but this left Old Dan dangerously wounded which resulted in his sad, untimely death. Things do not get any better as a few days later Billy noticed how dull and sad Little Anne had become. She was initially thought to be sick after that fatal battle with the lion but later they found out that she was heartbroken over the loss of Old Dan. She was seen to crawl up to Old Dan’s grave and mourn for the loss. One day, she dies while laying on top of his grave. Billy was emotionally devastated at this point and had given up all hopes of living. His family had brought up the idea of moving to town since they had enough money from all the raccoon hunting. Both Billy and his sister would be able to get a proper education in the town so they continued to persuade Billy. However, he was not yet ready to move on. He had not only lost his passion for hunting but also lost the determination to fight back the tragedy. His dogs meant everything to him. This turn of events had led him to lose faith in God and question their Almighty. He had become desperate to get his dogs back because he could not stand the pain of not being with them anymore. A while later he finally agrees on moving on from their home and settling in the town but he did not leave before visiting the dogs’ graves one last time. He went to the grave to bid farewell to his best friends when he noticed a red fern growing from the grave. His instinctive reflex was to cut it down to keep the graves undisturbed as possible. But then he had remembered a legend. The legend had stated that red ferns could only be planted by angels. Recalling this, he stopped himself from tearing off the fern and decided to keep it in place. He had now realized that angels had truly come down to the dog’s grave and blessed it. They were the greatest blessing he had had in his life. He had accepted that angels were looking after the dogs wherever they were and that it was okay for him to move on to the town for a better life. He felt relieved and may have had his faith in God restored at that moment, again thanks to the dogs. His family also witnessed this magical fern on the grave and they gazed at it in awe. Everyone believes that angels had been watching over the dogs after their death and that there should be no room for resentment.