Ree, Harold, and Sonny shoot at squirrels in the woods. After they’ve gotten three, Ree tells the boys to collect the squirrels and break the necks of the ones not yet dead. Ree asks the boys want the squirrels fried or stewed; they excitedly proclaim that they want to eat them fried. Ree agrees to cook the squirrels if the boys clean them.
Ree is continuing her brothers’ education in the art of survival. Here, we see that the prospect of eating meat of any kind is a luxury, and witness Ree’s increasing desperation to instill in her brothers the capability to provide for themselves and their mother.
Back at home, Gail emerges from the house, a cup of coffee in her hands. She watches while Ree tries to teach Sonny and Harold to skin and clean the squirrels, but the boys are squeamish. Ree tells her brothers that there is “a whole bunch of stuff you’re goin’ to have to get over bein’ scared of.” Gail and Ree encourage the boys to be brave, and soon both of them take to the task with ease and joy.
Gail and Ree already have been forced into wisdom and maturity beyond their years, as well as their roles as caretakers and providers. They hope to pass this knowledge down to the boys, and instill in them the necessity of being brave.