Where the Red Fern Grows Chapters 8 - 9 Summary

The first day of hunting season has finally arrived. It is the day Billy has been working towards for almost three years. He doesn't think about the possible dangers of hunting alone at night, but his parents do.

His father treats the almost fourteen- year-old Billy as a man. Billy's mother, like most mothers, has a hard time recognizing her little boy is growing up. She knows she can't keep him from hunting his dogs, but she would like to. Billy's papa strikes a deal with him, Billy can hunt all night and not work the farm during the day, if he tells his parents where he is hunting each night. This way if Billy doesn't return home they will know where to look for him. Billy accepts the reasonable deal. He doesn't know this plan will be useful the very first night he hunts.

The family sees Billy off as he, Old Dan, and Little Ann go into the woods to hunt ringtail raccoon for the first time. Billy is confident they will bring back a coon to hang on the side of the smokehouse.

The dogs are eager to begin the hunt. They remember what Billy has taught them and soon they are on the trail of a coon. The animal is wily, which causes some problems for Old Dan and Little Ann as he crosses the river and they lose his scent. Billy is about to give up on the dogs finding the trail again on their own, then Little Ann plunges into the river. Old Dan follows her and the chase is on again. The raccoon crosses back across the river and climbs up a water oak, causing the dogs to lose track of the animal.

Just as Billy is about to move on to another area to hunt, Little Ann sees the raccoon and chases after him. He climbs up the largest sycamore tree in the woods. Billy doesn't think he can chop the tree down, then he realizes he has to because of the promise he made to his dogs. He told them if they treed the coon he would take care of the rest.

He starts to chop down the huge tree and is still working at it, when his father finds him the next morning. His parents were worried, because he didn't come home. His father has Billy's sister bring him food, so he can continue chopping down the tree. Billy tells him he must do this himself, because otherwise he would be going back on his word to his dogs. His father respects his son for wanting to always keep his word, whether it is to a man or an animal.

In the late evening, Billy is so sore he doesn't think he can go on cutting down the tree. This is when his grandpa shows up with a way for Billy to rest and eat. He has brought all the necessary supplies to make a scarecrow. The coon will think it is a man standing at the base of the tree and he will be too frightened to leave the tree. At first Billy thinks his grandpa is kidding him, but soon he realizes it is a good idea.

The two of them make it back home in time for supper. Billy is happy to sleep in his own bed, but at breakfast he learns Old Dan has found his way back to the tree. Billy and Little Ann find the dog sitting at the tree making sure the raccoon doesn't leave its hiding place. Billy at first thinks Old Dan stayed the night alone in the woods, but he sees a second dog bed and realizes Little Ann stayed with her brother.

Billy throws himself into chopping the tree down, his body is sore and his hands develop a multitude of blisters, but he keeps on swinging his ax. Then he is unable to go on any further, his hands are so full of blisters that he can no longer hold the ax. He rails against the tree, telling it even though he will not get the coon, the tree will not live. He prays to God for the strength to fell the tree.

A wind rises up, which only blows on the giant sycamore tree. It manages to blow the tree down and the raccoon races away from the tree. Little Ann chases the animal, catches it, and tries to kill it, but she is too small to kill the animal herself. Old Dan, who has been stunned after running into a burr oak tree, comes to her aid and the two of them kill the raccoon.

Billy feels sad that the raccoon is dead and the big tree, he had so loved, is no longer standing tall over the woods. He apologizes to the tree for cutting it down. But he is proud as he takes his prize home to his awaiting family. They all come out on the porch, to watch him triumphantly walk up to the house with the coon in his hand.

His mother is happy her son is safe after hearing the mighty crash of the tree and fearing her boy was crushed under it. Billy and his papa skin the coon together.

Billy asks his father if he thinks God created the breeze to fell the tree, but he father is not sure if it was God or just a high breeze. Billy knows in his heart it is God who made the tree fall.

Billy and his dogs are victorious in finding and killing their first raccoon. It takes a lot of hard work and some divine intervention to finally fell the tree the raccoon was hiding in. Billy shows his father he is a man of his word and a man who is willing to work for what he wants.

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