Where the Red Fern Grows

by

Wilson Rawls

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Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa Character Analysis

Billy’s paternal grandfather is a kind and scrappy old man who runs a small general store serving a remote Ozark mountain town. A spitfire of a man who loves his family and community, Grandpa was a skilled and seasoned raccoon hunter in his day. When Billy becomes obsessed with obtaining a pair of hounds of his own and using them to hunt raccoons, Grandpa sees an opportunity to relive his glory days and commits wholeheartedly to helping Billy realize his dreams. Grandpa is supportive of Billy through and through, helping him to order the hounds from a kennel in Kentucky, trap a raccoon whose hide can be used to train them, and even keeping track of the skins Billy brings to the general store to sell. Grandpa is so supportive of Billy’s hunting, in fact, that he sometimes even gets Billy into troublesome or tricky situations, such as when he encourages Billy to accept Rubin and Rainie Pritchard’s challenge to hunt the fabled “ghost coon” native to their part of the mountains, or when Grandpa enrolls Billy in a hunting competition which tests Little Ann and Old Dan as they’ve never been tested before. In spite of his occasional overenthusiasm, Grandpa’s heart is always in the right place—and his love for Billy, Ann, and Dan never wavers. From his grandfather, Billy learns important lessons about nature, masculinity, and perseverance.

Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa Quotes in Where the Red Fern Grows

The Where the Red Fern Grows quotes below are all either spoken by Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa or refer to Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa. 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 3 Quotes

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 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:
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 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:
Get the entire Where the Red Fern Grows LitChart as a printable PDF.
Where the Red Fern Grows PDF

Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa Character Timeline in Where the Red Fern Grows

The timeline below shows where the character Billy’s Grandfather / Grandpa appears in Where the Red Fern Grows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...summer, Billy “work[s] like a beaver” selling bait and gathering blackberries to sell to his grandfather, who owns a store in town. Billy’s grandpa becomes curious about what Billy’s saving up... (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 with the money. Grandpa is stunned that Billy... (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.... (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 tells Billy... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
...curious; the conversation ends. After two long and agonizing weeks of waiting, Billy visits his Grandpa’s store and he learns that the pups have arrived in Tahlequah. Grandpa tells Billy that... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...asks to see the puppies—he reveals that after Billy went missing, he himself went to Grandpa’s store, where Grandpa spilled the beans as to what Billy had been up to with... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...Papa got for him—but he fails each and every time. Frustrated, Billy goes to visit Grandpa at the store, knowing that his grandfather was once a skilled raccoon hunter. Grandpa goes... (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... (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 tricks he can think of. In order to learn more, he starts hanging around Grandpa’s store and listening to the tales that the hunters who shop there tell one another. (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. Grandpa asks how Billy’s doing, and Billy confesses that he’s about ready... (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 helps Billy and... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...able to make between $4 and $10 off of each hide by selling them at Grandpa’s store. Billy turns the money he makes off of his skins over to Papa—he doesn’t... (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 Dan. Billy takes... (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
...surely play in an attempt to disguise its snowy tracks. Billy, however, also remembers something Grandpa told him: “When the nights are dark and the ground is frozen and slick, [raccoons]... (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... (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
...make a bet. Billy refuses him. Rubin and Rainie buy chewing tobacco for themselves—much to Grandpa’s disgust—and then Grandpa takes Billy out back to the mill. Rainie and Rubin follow them.... (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
...distracted, he says, when other dogs are around. As Rainie and Rubin, satisfied, walk away, Grandpa grows excited about the bet. He tells Billy how much he hopes that Dan and... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...a pep talk and he begged them to catch the “ghost coon” for him and Grandpa. As Rubin and Rainie approach, Billy sees that they have their blue tick hound with... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...Papa, however, stands up and gets dressed. He announces that he is going to tell Grandpa what’s happened, as Grandpa has the “authority to move the body.” He urges Billy to... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
A few days later, Billy gets word that Grandpa wants to see him. Billy is sure that Grandpa wants to ask him about Rubin’s... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Grandpa changes the subject—he says he has something else he wants to talk to Billy about.... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Grandpa calls Little Ann and Old Dan into the shop and feeds them each a big... (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
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
At home, Billy tells his parents about Grandpa’s plans for the hunt. He begs Papa to agree to go with them. Papa is... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...for the hunt, Billy and Papa walk together with Old Dan and Little Ann to Grandpa’s general store, musing all the way about what skilled hunters—and what loving dogs—Dan and Ann... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Grandpa urges Billy to go into the barn and grab some hay to make beds for... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Grandpa drives the buggy all day until sundown, then pulls over at a creek to rest... (full context)
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...second owl—a screech owl—answering. Billy knows that hearing two owls is bad luck. Billy wakes Grandpa and he tells him what he’s heard. Grandpa tells Billy not to believe in superstition.... (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
...be held. Billy is in awe—he has never seen so many people in one place. Grandpa and Papa, too, are overwhelmed by the number of tents spread out over an acre-and-a-half... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...hound at the hunt. Billy oils her coat with butter and brushes her out using Grandpa’s ivory comb. At the contest, Billy brings Little Ann before the judges and he watches... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...go out on the fourth night of the hunt. That evening, Billy sits with Papa, Grandpa, and some other hunters around a campfire, singing songs and laughing. (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
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 takes to “hopping... (full context)
Chapter 16
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...hounds out that night comes to their tent to introduce himself—at sundown, the judge, Billy, Grandpa, Papa, and the dogs load up into the buggy and they drive downriver, away from... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...gun to scare the raccoon down. Dan and Ann kill the raccoon, and Billy helps Grandpa and Papa skin it. The group moves on as Dan and Ann pick up yet... (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, Papa, Grandpa, and the judge take off after the dogs. Soon, they come upon Dan and Ann... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
...to give to the winner—when the man comes to collect from Billy and his team, Grandpa urges the man to just leave the pot with them. (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
That night, Grandpa drives his buggy out to the swamp, where Billy believes there will be the best... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
As Grandpa, Billy, and Papa skin the raccoon, the judge points out a remarkable sight: Ann is... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
A storm begins approaching. Grandpa and Papa suggest that the storm will impact the hunt negatively, but Billy points out... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...Dan. She leads them through the storm awhile, but has no luck finding Dan. As Grandpa begins struggling to keep up, the judge suggests they all turn back—no dog, he says,... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...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 his... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Papa, Billy, and the judge help carry Grandpa back to the gully where Old Dan has treed the raccoon. There, they build a... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
Billy goes to sit with Grandpa. Grandpa can see that Billy is distressed. Billy expresses his worry that the dogs will... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...looking for the group. Soon, the search party arrives at the gully. The men tell Grandpa that there’s a doctor back at camp who’ll patch his ankle right up. One of... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...just covered in snow. While a few of the men make a stretcher and bring Grandpa back to camp, Mr. Benson and another man named Mr. Kyle follow Papa and Billy... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...raccoon. Together, the group sets out for camp once again. Billy brings his dogs to GrandpaGrandpa cries happy tears as he coos over Dan and Ann and he congratulates them on... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...and he begins crying as the crowd explodes in a sea of happy roars. Satisfied, Grandpa asks the doctor to bring him to town—he tells Papa to drive the buggy home... (full context)
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
The next afternoon, Billy and Papa drop the buggy at Grandpa’s store and they walk the rest of the way home. As they round the bend... (full context)
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...wonders what his parents are saying to each other. He can make out something about Grandpa—Billy deduces that his parents will want him to help Grandpa run the general store when... (full context)
Chapter 19
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Faith and Prayer Theme Icon
...dogs when the family moved to town—they planned to leave Billy and the dogs with Grandpa. Now, though, their family will be able to move to town together—they won’t be split... (full context)