Where the Red Fern Grows Chapters 1 - 4 Summary

A man walking home, from a day's work at his office, hears a dog fight in the alley he is walking past. At first, he pays no attention to it, but then he sees twenty-five dogs attacking one lone redbone hound. The old dog takes on his attackers and begins to tear into them, forcing the dogs to retreat.

The man, feeling sorry for the hound, wades into the melee and scatters the other dogs away from the hound dog. He coaxes the hound into going home with him, after seeing he is dirty, starving, and in need of attention. The dog reminds him of his youth, which compels him to feed and bathe him.

The next evening, after eating and resting, the dog is set free to continue its journey. The man feels the hound is traveling back home, after being separated from his owner. The dog, whose collar says his name is Buddy, seems grateful for the man's help.

The redbone hound reminds the man of his youth and the dogs he had, who gave their lives to save his. He sits in his living room remembering the story of the hounds of his youth.

The man is now remembering his youth, living at the foot of the Ozarks in northeastern Oklahoma. His mother is allotted a piece of farm land because she is part Cherokee. The boy, Billy, is ten years old and living in the most perfect place on the earth. He loves to hunt, which is easy to do in this part of America. The land is full of every kind of animal from lizards to ringtail raccoons, which makes Billy very happy.

The only thing missing from his life are a pair of coon hounds. He has asked both of his parents for the dogs, but the family is too poor to afford the seventy-five dollars required to purchase the dogs. He starts to waste away because he has lost the desire to eat, due to his need for the dogs.

His father buys him some steel traps, which work for a while to take his mind off the dogs, but one night he hears a hunter and his hounds as they search out their quarry. He is unable to sleep and starts to lose more weight. His mother becomes concerned about his health, but his father tells her he will allow the boy to help with the farming in the summer. This news is well received by Billy, because it means his father thinks he is becoming a man.

Billy, one day as he is working in the fields, hears a group of fishermen leave their campsite in their car. He quickly runs to the site to see what the men left behind. He finds an old magazine, which contains an ad for some redbone coon hound pups. The seller wants twenty-five dollars a pup, which is a good price for the dogs. Billy is excited at the prospect of buying two dogs. He prays to God asking for help, to make the money necessary to purchase the dogs.

The prayer works by allowing him to find a way to make the money. He decides to sell crawfish, minnows, vegetables, berries, and animal pelts. It takes him two years of hard work to earn the money, but one day in his twelfth year he meets his goal of fifty dollars.

He brings the money to his grandfather, because he has promised to order the dogs for Billy. Billy's grandfather didn't think he would actually come up with the money, so he is surprised by Billy's accomplishment. He tells Billy he will write the company selling the dogs, to see if the dogs are still for sale. He makes Billy promise not to tell his father about the money, because Billy's father might use it to buy a mule.

After constantly checking with his grandfather, to see if the puppy sellers responded to the letter of inquiry, Billy finally receives his answer. Not only are they still selling the puppies, but the price per dog has gone down by five dollars. Billy has ten dollars leftover to spend however he desires.

The dogs are ordered and are to be shipped to Tahlequah, a town about thirty-two miles away from Billy's home. Grandpa tells Billy he will help him make arrangements to pick up the dogs. Billy happily leaves his grandpa's store to return home and tell his father of his purchase. He never finds the correct moment to tell his father about the puppies.

After waiting two weeks for the dogs to arrive in Tahlequah, Billy is happy to receive the news they are at the train depot. Billy's grandpa has made arrangements for him to ride with Jim Hodges, in about a week, to pick up the dogs.

That night Billy decides he doesn't want to wait a week for his dogs, so without telling his parents, he packs some provisions and starts out on foot for Tahlequah. He walks as the crow flies to the town, which means he must traverse twelve miles instead of thirty-two to town.

There Billy sees what a town looks like for the first time in his life. It is a little scary for him being in a new place, but he finds someone who will give him directions to the depot. For the first time, he encounters children at a school and is laughed at, by an old lady, after he tries out the playground equipment. After he buys his family some presents, he decides town people are different and hard to understand.

Billy is a young boy who is desperate to own a pair of coon hounds. He finds a way to make enough money to purchase the dogs. He then sneaks away from home to pick them up from the train depot. While he is in town he encounters some new and interesting people.

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