Where the Red Fern Grows

by

Wilson Rawls

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Another Ozark mountain youth who is part of the infamous and insular Pritchard clan of bootleggers and thieves. A large, imposing boy two years Billy’s senior, Rubin is a bully through and through. When Rubin’s younger brother Rainie challenges Billy to a bet, claiming that Billy’s dogs won’t be able to tree the infamous “ghost coon”—a large, wily, uncatchable raccoon native to the Pritchards’ part of the Ozarks—Rubin repeatedly attempts to get Billy to give up and surrender his money before the terms of the bet have been determined either way. Rubin isn’t just physically intimidating—he’s also verbally abusive as he tries to get Billy to give up on his dogs. When Billy refuses to give into Rubin and Rainie’s bullying and decide to call his dogs off of killing the “ghost coon,” Rubin and Rainie become incensed. Rubin starts beating Billy for being yellow and “chicken-livered”—so Ann and Dan turn on Rubin and Rainie’s blue tick hound. When Rubin takes up Billy’s ax and runs toward the dogfight, intending to kill Ann and Dan, he trips and impales himself upon the ax. Rubin dies almost immediately, leaving Rainie traumatized and Billy forced to confront the swiftness of death, the randomness of life, and the lifelong guilt that accompanies bearing witness to such a tragedy.

Rubin Pritchard Quotes in Where the Red Fern Grows

The Where the Red Fern Grows quotes below are all either spoken by Rubin Pritchard or refer to Rubin Pritchard. 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 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:
Get the entire Where the Red Fern Grows LitChart as a printable PDF.
Where the Red Fern Grows PDF

Rubin Pritchard Character Timeline in Where the Red Fern Grows

The timeline below shows where the character Rubin Pritchard appears in Where the Red Fern Grows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...the Pritchard boys—a pair of brothers from a “no-account” family of “bootleggers [and] thieves”—are approaching. Rubin is two years older than Billy with broad shoulders and mean eyes. His small and... (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
Sure enough, as soon as Rainie and Rubin come into the store and spy Billy, Rainie asks Billy if he wants to make... (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
Rainie and Rubin make a plan to meet Billy at a landmark near their home the following night.... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...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 them. The... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...digging his way into a hollowed-out log which has formed a drift filled with water, Rubin and Rainie declare that the hunt is over—but Billy insists that he is not giving... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...the dogs upriver through the swampy bottoms of the valley. As Billy looks over at Rubin and Rainie, he feels happy and excited in spite of his dislike of the boys.... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...middle of a field. Billy walks once around the tree looking for the raccoon, but Rubin and Rainie insist it’s no use—the “ghost coon,” they declare, has already disappeared. Rainie urges... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...the post and he knocks on it—it is hollow. Billy picks up a switch, asks Rubin to give him a boost, and uses the switch the poke around inside the post... (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 “ghost coon”—having caught up with it is enough. Billy climbs down and he tells Rubin and Rainie that he isn’t going to kill the raccoon. They call him “chicken-livered” and... (full context)
The Lessons of a Dog’s Love Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...that he wants to go home—he doesn’t want to stay and watch the raccoon die. Rubin becomes angry and he accuses Billy of going back on his bet. Billy reminds him... (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
Rubin leaps off of Billy and seizes Billy’s ax. He roars that he will kill Old... (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
Billy turns around to see Rainie staring down at Rubin in horror. As Billy moves closer to the Pritchard boys, Rainie starts screaming and he... (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
...dug in the graveyard on the Pritchards’ land. As Billy quietly places the flowers on Rubin’s grave, he can hear the sounds of Old Blue howling inside the house. (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
...Grandpa wants to see him. Billy is sure that Grandpa wants to ask him about Rubin’s death. He heads nervously to the general store with Little Ann and Old Dan following... (full context)
The Circle of Life and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Masculinity and Emotion Theme Icon
...his things in the back and sees that his ax—the one which was lodged in Rubin’s stomach—has been cleaned and packed up along with everything else. The sight of it fills... (full context)
Chapter 19
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 sees his ax sticking out of the mountain lion’s back, he thinks of Rubin Pritchard. Billy goes to the dogs and he examines them. Little Ann is cut up... (full context)