Where the Red Fern Grows

by

Wilson Rawls

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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.
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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 18 Quotes

"What I can't understand is why they stayed with the tree," Mr. Benson said. […]

“Men,” said Mr. Kyle, "people have been trying to understand dogs ever since the beginning of time. […] You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don't. I may be wrong, but I call it love… […] It's a shame that people all over the world can't have that kind of love in their hearts… […] There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed or selfishness. It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have.”

Related Characters: Mr. Benson and Mr. Kyle (speaker), Old Dan, Little Ann
Page Number: 242-243
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:
No matches.