Where the Red Fern Grows

by

Wilson Rawls

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The protagonist and narrator of the novel. The older Billy Colman is a man in his fifties who feels compelled to relive the memories of his Ozark mountain youth after rescuing a hound from a dogfight on his way home from work one afternoon. The hound reminds him of the two hounds he owned as a young boy, Old Dan and Little Ann, and the adventures they shared over the course of a fateful, formative year when Billy was 12. Billy is faithful, determined, motivated, and loyal—and through his relationship with his dogs, he comes to learn more and more about himself, his place in the world, his beliefs, and his values each and every day. Billy saves up for two years to buy himself a pair of purebred redbone coonhounds in hopes of becoming the best raccoon hunter in the Ozarks. With Little Ann and Old Dan by his side, Billy has many adventures—some exciting, some frightful, and some emotional. As Billy’s faith in his dogs’ loyalty, in God’s love, and in his own capability for resilience and perseverance is put to the test again and again, Billy finds himself learning important lessons about family, responsibility, and commitment. Billy is an emotional and expressive young man who cries and laughs easily, who loves with a full and open heart, and who isn’t afraid to declare his belief in a higher power. He has a clear sense of right and wrong, a profound respect for the wonder of nature, and a deep, expansive intuitiveness which allows him to understand what his dogs are thinking and feeling (and share his own feelings with them, too) in spite of the fact that they’re not human. Through Billy’s journey, Wilson Rawls explores themes of masculinity and emotion, love and loyalty, faith and prayer, and the lessons a dog’s love can teach their human counterparts.

Billy Colman Quotes in Where the Red Fern Grows

The Where the Red Fern Grows quotes below are all either spoken by Billy Colman or refer to Billy Colman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Yearling edition of Where the Red Fern Grows published in 1996.
Chapter 1 Quotes

By this time, my fighting blood was boiling. It's hard for a man to stand and watch an old hound fight against such odds, especially if that man has memories in his heart like I had in mine. I had seen the time when an old hound like that had given his life so that I might live.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

Papa set me on his lap and we had a good talk. He told me how hard times were, and that it looked like a man couldn't get a fair price for anything he raised. Some of the farmers had quit farming and were cutting railroad ties so they could feed their families. If things didn't get better, that's what he'd have to do. He said he'd give anything if he could get some good hounds for me, but there didn't seem to be any way he could right then.

I went off to bed with my heart all torn up in little pieces, and cried myself to sleep.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Billy’s Father / Papa
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

I remembered a passage from the Bible my mother had read to us: "God helps those who help themselves." I thought of the words. I mulled them over in my mind. I decided I'd ask God to help me. There on the bank of the Illinois River, in the cool shade of the tall white sycamores, I asked God to help me get two hound pups. It wasn't much of a prayer, but it did come right from the heart.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Billy’s Mother / Mama
Page Number: 20-21
Explanation and Analysis:

Lying back in the soft hay, I folded my hands behind my head, closed my eyes, and let my mind wander back over the two long years. I thought of the fishermen, the blackberry patches, and the huckleberry hills. I thought of the prayer I had said when I asked God to help me get two hound pups. I knew He had surely helped, for He had given me the heart, courage, and determination.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker)
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

It was too much for my grandfather. He turned and walked away. I saw the glasses come off, and the old red handkerchief come out. I heard the good excuse of blowing his nose. He stood for several seconds with his back toward me. When he turned around, I noticed his eyes were moist.

In a quavering voice, he said, "Well, Son, it's your money. You worked for it, and you worked hard. You got it honestly, and you want some dogs. We're going to get those dogs. Be damned! Be damned!"

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa (speaker)
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

By the road it was thirty-two miles away, but as the crow flies, it was only twenty miles. I went as the crow flies, straight through the hills.

Although I had never been to town in my life […] I had the river to guide me.

[…] In a mile-eating trot, I moved along. I had the wind of a deer, the muscles of a country boy, a heart full of dog love, and a strong determination. I wasn't scared of the darkness, or the mountains, for I was raised in those mountains.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker)
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

One pup started my way. I held my breath. On he came until I felt a scratchy little foot on mine. The other pup followed. A warm puppy tongue caressed my sore foot.

I heard the Stationmaster say, "They already know you."

I knelt down and gathered them in my arms. I buried my face between their wiggling bodies and cried. The Stationmaster, sensing something more than just two dogs and a boy, waited in silence.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), The Stationmaster (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

What I saw in my pups gave me courage. My knees quit shaking and my heart stopped pounding.

I figured the lion had scented my pups. The more I thought about anything harming them, the madder I got. I was ready to die for my dogs.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Papa whacked him again and it was all over. […]

After the coon was killed, I walked over. Papa was trying to get the coon's paw from the trap. […] A sorrowful look came over Papa's face… […] "Billy," he said, "l want you to take a hammer and pull the nails from every one of those traps. […] I don't think this is very sportsmanlike.”

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Billy’s Father / Papa (speaker), Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

It was wonderful indeed how I could have heart-to-heart talks with my dogs and they always seemed to understand. […] Although they couldn't talk in my terms, they had a language of their own that was easy to understand. Sometimes I would see the answer in their eyes, and again it would be in the friendly wagging of their tails. […] In some way, they would always answer.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 77-78
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

I was expecting one of them to bawl, but when it came it startled me. The deep tones of Old Dan's voice jarred the silence around me. […] A strange feeling came over me. […] This was what I had prayed for, worked and sweated for, my own little hounds bawling on the trail of a river coon. I don't know why I cried, but I did.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 83-84
Explanation and Analysis:

With tears in my eyes, I looked again at the big sycamore. A wave of anger came over me. Gritting my teeth, I said, "l don't care how big you are, I'm not going to let my dogs down. I told them if they put a coon in a tree I would do the rest and I'm going to. I'm going to cut you down. I don't care if it takes me a whole year."

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

“If a man's word isn't any good, he's no good himself.”

Related Characters: Billy’s Father / Papa (speaker), Billy Colman, Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

There, scratched deep in the soft leaves were two little beds. One was smaller than the other. Looking at Little Ann, I read the answer in her warm gray eyes.

Old Dan hadn't been alone when he had gone back to the tree. She too had gone along. There was no doubt that in the early morning she had come home to get me.

There was a lump in my throat as I said, “I'm sorry little girl, I should've known."

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

Kneeling down between my dogs, I cried and prayed. “Please God, give me the strength to finish the job. […] Please help me finish the job." I was trying to rewrap my hands so I could go back to work when I heard a low droning sound. […] I looked up. High in the top of the big sycamore a breeze had started the limbs to swaying. A shudder ran through the huge trunk. […]

It started popping and snapping. I knew it was going to fall. […]

I held my breath. The top of the big sycamore rocked and swayed.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

I opened my mouth to call Old Dan. I wanted to tell him to come on and we'd go home as there was nothing we could do. The words just wouldn't come out. I couldn't utter a sound. I lay my face against the icy cold bark of the sycamore. I thought of the prayer I had said when I had asked God to help me get two hound pups. I knelt down and sobbed out a prayer. I asked for a miracle which would save the life of my little dog. I promised all the things that a young boy could if only He would help me.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

About halfway up, far out on a limb, I found the ghost coon. As I started toward him, my dogs stopped bawling. I heard something I had heard many times. The sound was like the cry of a small baby. It was the cry of a ringtail coon when he knows it is the end of the trail. I never liked to hear this cry, but it was all in the game, the hunter and the hunted.

As I sat there on the limb, looking at the old fellow, he cried again. Something came over me. I didn't want to kill him.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann, Rubin Pritchard, Rainie Pritchard
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

“Don't let him up, Rubin," Rainie said. "Beat the hell out of him, or hold him and let me do it."

Just then I heard growling, and a commotion off to one side. […] I heard Rainie yell, "Rubin, they're killing Old Blue."

Rubin jumped up off me.

I clambered up and looked over to the fight. What I saw thrilled me. Faithful Little Ann […] had gone to the assistance of Old Dan.

I knew my dogs were very close to each other. Everything they did was done as a combination, but I never expected this.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Rainie Pritchard (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann, Rubin Pritchard
Page Number: 164-165
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

Both of them started eating at the same time.

With an astonished look on his face, Grandpa exclaimed, “Well, I'll be darned. I never saw anything like that. Why, I never saw a hound that wouldn't eat. Did you train them to do that?"

"No, Grandpa,” I said. "They've always been that way. They won't take anything away from each other, and everything they do, they do it as one."

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

The judge said, "Well, have you ever seen that? Look over there!"

Old Dan was standing perfectly still, with eyes closed and head hanging down. Little Ann was licking at his cut and bleeding ears.

"She always does that," I said. "If you'll watch, when she gets done with him, he'll do the same for her."

We stood and watched until they had finished doctoring each other. Then, trotting side by side, they disappeared in the darkness.

Related Characters: The Judge (speaker), Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 222-223
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“Please go just a little further," I begged. "I just know we'll hear them."

Still no one spoke or made a move to go on.

Stepping over to my father, I buried my face in his old mackinaw coat. Sobbing, I pleaded with him not to turn back. He patted my head. “Billy," he said, “a man could freeze to death in this storm, and besides, your dogs will give up and come in."

"That's what has me worried," I cried. 'They won't come in. They won't, Papa. Little Ann might, but not Old Dan. He'd die before he'd leave a coon in a tree."

Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:

I heard the judge say to my father, “This beats anything I have ever seen. Why, those dogs can read that boy's mind.” […]

Papa said, "Yes, I know what you mean. I've seen them do things that I couldn't understand. I'd never heard of hounds that ever had any affection for anyone, but these dogs are different. Did you know they won't hunt with anyone but him, not even me?"

Related Characters: The Judge (speaker), Billy’s Father / Papa (speaker), Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

I went berserk, and charged into the fight.

There in the flinty hills of the Ozarks, I fought for the lives of my dogs. I fought with the only weapon I had, the sharp cutting blade of a double-bitted ax.

Screaming like a madman, with tears running down my face, I hacked and chopped at the big snarling mountain cat.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

"l never saw anything like it. Little Ann wouldn't have fought the lion if it hadn't been for Old Dan. All she was doing was helping him. He wouldn't quit. He just stayed right in there till the end. I even had to pry his jaws loose from the lion's throat after the lion was dead."

Glancing at Old Dan, Papa said, “It's in his blood, Billy. He's a hunting hound, and the best one I ever saw. He only has two loves—you and hunting. That's all he knows."

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Billy’s Father / Papa (speaker), Billy’s Mother / Mama, Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

'Don't touch it, Mama," my oldest sister whispered. "It was planted by an angel."

Mama smiled and asked, "Have you heard the legend?"

'Yes, Mama," my sister said. “Grandma told me the story and I believe it, too."

With a serious look on his face, Papa said, "These hills are full of legends. Up until now I've never paid much attention to them, but now I don't know. Perhaps there is something to the legend of the red fern. Maybe this is God's way of helping Billy understand why his dogs died."

“I’m sure it is, Papa," I said, "and I do understand. I feel different now, and I don't hurt any more."

Related Characters: Billy’s Sisters (speaker), Billy’s Mother / Mama (speaker), Billy’s Father / Papa (speaker), Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann, Grandma
Related Symbols: The Red Fern
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:

I have never been back to the Ozarks. All I have left are my dreams and memories, but if God is willing, some day I'd like to go back-back to those beautiful hills. I'd like to walk again on trails I walked in my boyhood days.

[…] I'm sure the red fern has grown and has completely covered the two little mounds. I know it is still there, hiding its secret beneath those long, red leaves, but it wouldn't be hidden from me for part of my life is buried there, too.

Related Characters: Billy Colman (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Related Symbols: The Red Fern
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:
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Where the Red Fern Grows PDF

Billy Colman Character Timeline in Where the Red Fern Grows

The timeline below shows where the character Billy Colman appears in Where the Red Fern Grows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Billy Colman leaves his office one pleasant spring day feeling that “everything is right” in the... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy calms the agitated dog and he beckons it toward him. As it approaches, he can... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy knows that the dog will walk as long and as far as it needs to... (full context)
Chapter 2 
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
At 10 years old, Billy Colman is struck out of nowhere by “that wonderful disease of puppy love”—seemingly overnight, he... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy describes his family’s homestead: they live in the foothills at the base of the Ozarks... (full context)
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy’s “dog-wanting” becomes so intense that he starts moping around the house, “grieving” with each passing... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
The next day, Papa brings home three steel traps from the store. Billy is so excited he begins crying on the spot. The next morning, after a lesson... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Papa helps Billy trap opossums, skunks, rabbits, and squirrels in the cane fields beyond the house and he... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
After a while, Billy begins longing for his hounds again when hunting season starts and he hears a hunter... (full context)
Chapter 3
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Though working on the farm helps Billy distract himself from his dog-wanting for a time, it never fully eradicates his feelings of... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy leaves the fishermen’s campsite as dusk begins to fall. He notices animals coming to life... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
The next day, Billy finds an old baking powder can and he washes it up. He deposits 23 cents—all... (full context)
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Over the course of that winter and the following summer, Billy continues working hard. After a year, Billy, now 12, has saved well over the halfway... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
The next day, Billy brings his can of money to his grandfather’s store and he presents his “dumbfounded” grandpa... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Grandpa turns back around and he tells Billy that it’s time to get him his dogs. He urges Billy to head home—he is... (full context)
Chapter 4
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
One day, when Billy visits Grandpa’s store, he notices that Grandpa has a special twinkle in his eye. Grandpa... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
That night, at the dinner table, Billy asks how far it is to Kentucky. Billy’s parents tell him that it’s a long... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
In the middle of the night, unable to sleep, Billy makes up his mind to hoof it to Kentucky himself. He rises from bed, dresses,... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy is overwhelmed as soon as he sets foot in Tahlequah. From the sight of young... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy walks through town toward the depot, trying to ignore the way the strangers of Tahlequah... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy arrives at the depot feeling self-conscious and disheartened. He is afraid to go inside, but... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...stationmaster gets the box open. He lifts the puppies out and he hands them to Billy: one is a girl, one is a boy, and they’re both a beautiful red color.... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Walking back through the streets of Tahlequah, Billy feels proud and confident. He is sure that once the townspeople get a load of... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy sets his sack down and lets loose on the leader of the gang, socking him... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
After bidding the marshal farewell, Billy starts back out on the road. The journey back is more difficult—the pups are heavy... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...the girl. The girl pup is small, timid, and delicate—but what she lacks in size, Billy observes, she makes up for in smarts. Tired and happy, Billy falls asleep shortly after... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
In the morning, Billy puts his puppies into their sack and they continues on their way. At about midday,... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy walks the final stretch home along the river and he nervously arrives at the front... (full context)
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy tells his family all about his adventure, from the kindness of the stationmaster to the... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The next morning, Billy gets right to work building a doghouse. Papa fashions collars for the dogs out of... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Though Billy is thrilled to have his pups at last, he soon realizes that another obstacle stands... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Grandpa instructs Billy to drop a piece of shiny tin inside a hole in a log in the... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
The next morning, Billy gets to work collecting pieces of tin and using them to lay traps in a... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Sure enough, after a week, Billy goes out to check his traps and finds that he has caught a raccoon. The... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
As Billy bounds into the yard, Mama begins crying—she asks Billy if he’s been bitten by a... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...as Papa picks up a large stick and he begins beating the raccoon to death. Billy’s sisters start to cry, so Mama leads them away—but Billy watches transfixed and unafraid. After... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
The next day, Billy begins giving his dogs hunting lessons using the raccoon’s skins. As Billy’s pups learn to... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
At the end of the summer, Billy is exhausted from having worked with Old Dan and Little Ann each and every day.... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
On the first day of hunting season, Billy calms his anxiety by making preparations for the coming night, when he and the dogs... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
That night, as Billy prepares to head out on the hunt, Mama fusses over him and she tells him... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy sets off into the frosty, beautiful Ozark darkness with his dogs beside them. He talks... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...the woods, crossing the river and darting this way and that. Old Dan whines to Billy, but Billy tells Dan that he needs to pick the trail back up himself. Dan... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Just as Billy picks up his things and prepares to lead his dogs home, however, Little Ann begins... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy takes stock of the tree. Though he can see a hollow limb near the top... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy begins chipping away at the tree with his ax. He works through the night, bolstered... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Papa explains that Mama was worried sick when Billy didn’t come home. Billy tries to hold back his tears of shame and remorse. Papa,... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Billy resumes work on the tree and he chops all morning until his sister visits with... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
By late evening, Billy is exhausted from chopping when he hears someone coming: it is Grandpa in his buggy.... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Together, Billy and his grandfather build and erect their scarecrow, laughing and talking all the while. Grandpa... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
In the morning, Billy is stiff and tired, but Papa assures Billy that he’ll limber up as soon as... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Back at the old sycamore, Billy notices that there are two small beds made of leaves. He realizes that Little Ann... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy kneels between his dogs and he prays, asking God to give him “the strength to... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy watches as Old Dan and Little Ann trap and kill the racoon in a “savage... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
As Billy arrives home, he sees that his whole family is waiting out on the porch for... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Night after night, Billy takes Old Dan and Little Ann out to hunt. He loves climbing through the wild... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Little Ann and Old Dan go everywhere with Billy except to Grandpa’s general store, where the old dogs gathered outside often pick on Old... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Billy loves his dogs deeply. He has noticed how much they love each other as well—Old... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
One night, during a particularly long and difficult hunt against a whip-smart raccoon, Billy loses sight of Old Dan and Little Ann after they follow a raccoon into the... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Another night, Little Ann and Old Dan tree a raccoon in a petrified tree. When Billy catches up with them, he sees that Old Dan has climbed up the hollow inside... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...Ann gets into a “predicament” while out hunting in a deep fall of fresh snow. Billy is determined to take his dogs out in spite of the icy weather that has... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
As Billy follows his dogs down to the river, he loses track of their voices. He calls... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy realizes that Little Ann probably slipped into the icy water while trying to leap from... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Billy is just about to give up and head for home, leaving Ann for dead. He... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Once Billy has Ann back on land, he wraps her in his coat and he builds a... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Soon, aided by Grandpa’s bragging, word about Billy’s dogs spreads all over the countryside. One morning, Billy takes some corn into town so... (full context)
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Sure enough, as soon as Rainie and Rubin come into the store and spy Billy, Rainie asks Billy if he wants to make a bet. Billy refuses him. Rubin and... (full context)
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Rainie and Rubin make a plan to meet Billy at a landmark near their home the following night. Billy agrees but he asks the... (full context)
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The next night, Billy meets the Pritchards at the appointed spot. On the way, Billy gave his dogs a... (full context)
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...formed a drift filled with water, Rubin and Rainie declare that the hunt is over—but Billy insists that he is not giving up until his dogs do. Rubin tries to get... (full context)
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The dogs chase the raccoon. Billy and the Pritchard boys chase the dogs upriver through the swampy bottoms of the valley.... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Billy approaches the tree, a squat oak in the middle of a field. Billy walks once... (full context)
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...her head to sniff and she begins walking with purpose toward the tree. Watching her, Billy declares that he might not have lost his $2 after all. Little Ann tracks the... (full context)
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...him. The raccoon puts up a good fight, eventually scrabbling up into the oak tree. Billy climbs the tree to shake the raccoon out—but as he climbs out onto the limb... (full context)
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Billy asks for his money back and he declares that he wants to go home—he doesn’t... (full context)
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Rubin leaps off of Billy and seizes Billy’s ax. He roars that he will kill Old Dan and Little Ann... (full context)
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Billy turns around to see Rainie staring down at Rubin in horror. As Billy moves closer... (full context)
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Back at home, Billy wakes his parents and he tells them everything that’s happened. Mama begins crying and she... (full context)
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...take him into town to see a doctor. In a stern, tired voice, Papa warns Billy not to mess around with the Pritchards anymore. (full context)
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Over the next several days, Billy is plagued by terrible guilt and nightmares. Billy asks Mama if there’s anything he can... (full context)
Chapter 14
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A few days later, Billy gets word that Grandpa wants to see him. Billy is sure that Grandpa wants to... (full context)
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Grandpa changes the subject—he says he has something else he wants to talk to Billy about. He pulls out a newspaper and shows Billy an ad for a championship raccoon... (full context)
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...hunk of cheese. He calls them “the best darn […] hounds in these Ozark Mountains.” Billy is full of excitement and anticipation. Grandpa says that the hunt starts in six days,... (full context)
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As Billy runs home with his dogs by his side, he feels especially tuned into the sounds... (full context)
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At home, Billy tells his parents about Grandpa’s plans for the hunt. He begs Papa to agree to... (full context)
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...of excitement and anxiety. When it is at last time to leave for the hunt, Billy and Papa walk together with Old Dan and Little Ann to Grandpa’s general store, musing... (full context)
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Grandpa urges Billy to go into the barn and grab some hay to make beds for the dogs... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...until sundown, then pulls over at a creek to rest for the night. He insists Billy make soft beds on the ground for the dogs and feed them some delicious corned-beef... (full context)
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That night, as Billy lays down to go to sleep, he hears the sound of a hoot owl calling... (full context)
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...next afternoon, the buggy arrives at the camp where the hunt is to be held. Billy is in awe—he has never seen so many people in one place. Grandpa and Papa,... (full context)
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The next day, Billy enters Little Ann in a contest to determine the best-looking hound at the hunt. Billy... (full context)
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...each draw a card which will tell them what night their team is to hunt. Billy waits in line with the other men; while he waits, the others treat and talk... (full context)
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As the days go by, more and more groups are eliminated. Billy, Papa, and Grandpa patiently wait their turn. On the day of their hunt, however, Grandpa... (full context)
Chapter 16
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That afternoon, the judge who is to accompany Billy and his hounds out that night comes to their tent to introduce himself—at sundown, the... (full context)
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After a long chase, Billy at last hears Ann and Dan howl that the raccoon has been treed. Papa pulls... (full context)
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Billy, Papa, Grandpa, and the judge take off after the dogs. Soon, they come upon Dan... (full context)
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After a day of rest and another night of eliminations, the head judge calls Billy and the other winning teams to his tent. He informs them that the eliminations are... (full context)
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That night, Grandpa drives his buggy out to the swamp, where Billy believes there will be the best hunting. As Billy prepares to set Ann and Dan... (full context)
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As Grandpa, Billy, and Papa skin the raccoon, the judge points out a remarkable sight: Ann is licking... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...begins approaching. Grandpa and Papa suggest that the storm will impact the hunt negatively, but Billy points out that all game gets to stirring before a storm. After a while it... (full context)
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...as they follow the intermittent sounds of Old Dan’s bawls. Eventually, Papa suggests they stop. Billy asks Papa to shoot his gun in hopes that the dogs will hear it and... (full context)
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...refuses to move from the treed raccoon. Soon, Papa and the judge catch up to Billy—but Grandpa is nowhere to be found. Billy begins doubling back and calling for Grandpa, but... (full context)
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Papa, Billy, and the judge help carry Grandpa back to the gully where Old Dan has treed... (full context)
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When Billy and Papa return to the fire and tell the judge what has happened, Billy makes... (full context)
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Billy goes to sit with Grandpa. Grandpa can see that Billy is distressed. Billy expresses his... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...dawn, the storm settles into a fine snow. The “hellish night” is over at last. Billy climbs out of the gully and he listens for the sounds of his dogs’ bawls—instead,... (full context)
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Another man from camp, Mr. Benson, approaches and announces that he has found Billy’s hounds—they are “frozen solid” and they’re covered in white ice at the base of a... (full context)
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...help warm the dogs near its glow. Mr. Kyle declares that the kind of loyalty Billy’s dogs have shown him represents “the deepest kind of love.” Mr. Kyle suggests that if... (full context)
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...Dan and Ann dispatch the raccoon. Together, the group sets out for camp once again. Billy brings his dogs to Grandpa—Grandpa cries happy tears as he coos over Dan and Ann... (full context)
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...outside the tent as the man who was collecting the jackpot the night before brings Billy his winnings of over $300. Soon, the head judge brings Billy his golden cup and... (full context)
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The next afternoon, Billy and Papa drop the buggy at Grandpa’s store and they walk the rest of the... (full context)
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That night, after Billy gets into bed, he notices a light out in the yard. He looks out his... (full context)
Chapter 19
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After winning the cups, Billy continues taking Little Ann and Old Dan out hunting every night. About three weeks after... (full context)
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As Billy approaches with his lantern to grab the dogs’ collars and pull them away from the... (full context)
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The fight goes on and on as Billy continues chopping at the cat while the mountain lion rips and tears at Dan and... (full context)
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With tears in his eyes, Billy begins trying to stanch Dan’s wounds using mud. Billy pulls his ax from the mountain... (full context)
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Back at the house, Billy wakes his parents. Mama immediately gets to work on Old Dan’s terrible wounds, washing his... (full context)
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Mama and Papa go to bed, but Billy stays up by the fire. Around dawn, he hears a mournful cry. He goes out... (full context)
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Two days later, Billy realizes that the worst is not over. When he comes in from working in the... (full context)
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Billy nurses Ann all night and all day, but when he goes out to work with... (full context)
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Back inside, Papa tells Billy that now is the time to “stand up like a man” and accept that there... (full context)
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Billy concedes that God may have given the dogs to him in order to fulfill Mama... (full context)
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In the middle of the night, Billy gets up and goes out to the doghouse to cry. Mama hears him outside. She... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Several months later, spring arrives in the Ozarks, and Billy and his family prepare to leave for town. Mama and Papa are elated about the... (full context)
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Billy calls for his parents and his sisters, and they all approach the hillside together. Mama... (full context)
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The older Billy, looking back on his tale, states that he has never been back to the Ozarks—he... (full context)