Where the Red Fern Grows Quotes

"It's not easy for a young boy to want a dog and not be able to have one." (Billy Colman, Chapter 2, p.7)

Billy is ten-years-old and desperately wants to own a pair of coon hound dogs. His parents tell him the dogs, which cost seventy-five dollars for the pair, are just too expensive. His father tries to mollify Billy by buying him some traps to hunt with, but after a while Billy returns to pining for the dogs.

"Do you believe God heard your prayer and helped you?"

"Yes, Mama," I said. "I know He did and I'll always be thankful." (Billy Colman, Mama, Chapter 6, p. 53)

Billy saw an ad in a magazine for coon hounds which cost twenty-five dollars each. He then prayed to God to help him find a way to raise the money. A plan formed in his mind, which was he could sell crawfish and fresh vegetables to fishermen. He would also sell berries in his grandfather's store and in the winter trap and sell the pelts. He worked at saving the money for his dogs for two years.

After saving the money, he asked his grandpa to order the dogs for him. The day Billy brought his dogs home was one of the happiest days of his life. He knows God heard his prayer and made it possible for him to purchase the dogs. His mother and he talk about God helping Billy acquire the dogs and how grateful Billy is for God's help.

"I'm sure no one in the world can understand a young boy like his grandfather can." (Billy Colman, Chapter 9, p. 85)

Billy has a very close relationship with his grandfather. He is the most important person in Billy's life, after his parents. Billy's grandpa gives him advice and helps him attain his goal of owning the hounds. It is Grandpa who tells Billy how to catch his first ringtail raccoon, to use the pelt to train the dogs and it is Grandpa who enters Billy's dogs in the Championship Coon Hunt. Billy will do anything for his grandpa and his grandpa will do anything for Billy.

"The strangest thing about Old Dan was that he would not hunt, even with me, unless Little Ann was with him." (Billy Colman, Chapter 10, p. 102)

Billy is explaining to the reader the relationship, Old Dan and Little Ann, his hounds have with each other. Old Dan and Little Ann are joined together in such a way that they will not eat, sleep, or hunt apart from each other. This is the reason Old Dan saves Little Ann's life after she fell into the cold, fast rushing creek during a hunt. He makes sure Billy knows his dog's life is at risk. Little Ann is willing to join in any fight with any animal, if Old Dan is there fighting right alongside her. Everyone, from Billy's father to the judge at the hunt competition, notices the uncommon attachment the two hounds have for one another.

"Because of my grandfather's bragging, and his firm belief in my dogs and me, a terrible thing happened." (Billy Colman, Chapter 12, p. 123)

Billy's grandfather is very proud of Billy's hunting prowess. He brags to anyone who comes into his store, about his grandson and his hunting dogs. The word reaches the Pritchard boys that Billy is a very skilled hunter and has two talented hunting dogs. The Pritchard boys are mean and known throughout the country as trouble makers. They bet Billy two dollars his dogs cannot tree a raccoon known as the ghost coon.

Billy's grandpa makes the bet for Billy, because he wants to show off to the Pritchard boys. Billy's dogs do tree the raccoon, but as he is arguing with the boys as to whether his dogs fulfilled the bet, the Pritchard's dog appears on the scene. The mean dog starts a fight with Billy's dogs, which does not going well for the Pritchard dog. To save his own dog, Rubin Pritchard takes Billy's ax and runs toward Old Dan and Little Ann. He is intent on killing them, but he trips on a stick and the ax imbeds itself in Rubin's stomach. Rubin soon dies from his wounds, which causes grief for his family and Billy's family.

"I've got it all fixed, Billy. We can enter Old Dan and Little Ann in this championship hunt." (Grandpa, Chapter 14, pp. 156-157)

It is only a few days since Rubin Pritchard has died and Billy is feeling sad about the events. His grandpa has asked him to stop by his store so he can talk to him. Billy is afraid the elderly man wants him to recount in detail the grisly accident. Which is what his grandpa wants, but he also has some exciting news for Billy.

He has entered the dogs in the Championship Coon Hunt, which is only for the best coon hunting dogs around. People come from several states to compete in the hunt, which is regulated as to who can compete. Grandpa has been keeping a record of the pelts Billy has brought in to sell at the store. He has also had others writing letters testifying to the abilities of the dogs.

Billy is very excited to have his dogs competing in the championship. Grandpa also wants Billy to ask his father to accompany them to the hunt. Papa agrees, after some persuasion by Billy's mother, to go to the competition.

"I don't know how I'll ever pay you back for what you've done," I said, "but I'll never forget it." (Billy Colman, Chapter 19, p. 230)

Billy is back home, after having won the hunting competition. He, Old Dan, and Little Ann have just fought back against the attack of a mountain lion. This occurred one night as they were hunting and Old Dan had treed the mountain lion. The cat, whose claws are razor sharp, was about to pounce on Billy after he fell, but the two hounds interceded.

They jumped as one against the mountain lion and in the process, were badly injured. Billy knows if not for the actions of his hounds, he would probably be dead. He is upset by the encounter, but thinks his dogs will be all right after some medical attention. Instead he finds out Old Dan is more seriously injured than he thought, in fact his injuries are life threatening.

"Old Dan must have known he was dying. Just before he drew one last sigh, and a feeble thump of his tail, his friendly gray eyes closed forever." (Billy Colman, Chapter 19, p. 233)

Despite the best efforts of Billy and his parents, Old Dan succumbs to his injuries. Billy is heartbroken by the loss of not just a pet, but a friend. The fact the hound died from injuries resulting from saving Billy's life, makes him feel guilty about Old Dan's death. Billy is inconsolable and his parents leave him to his thoughts.

After a while Billy hears a noise on the porch, which is where Papa has placed Old Dan's body. It is Little Ann coming to sleep by her friend, just as they have done all of their lives.

"With the last ounce of strength in her body, she had dragged herself to the grave of Old Dan." (Billy Colman, Chapter 19, p. 237)

Billy finds Little Ann dead on Old Dan's grave. She did not die of her injuries, instead she allowed herself to starve to death, out of grief for Old Dan. She only desired to be with Old Dan, even if that meant she must die to be with him. Billy has lost both of his dogs in just a couple of days. He is beside himself with grief. He doesn't understand why they have both died, because they didn't do anything to deserve such as fate.

His mother tries to console him, but he can't see the wisdom of her words. In the future he will understand she was correct in telling him there is a reason for the dogs death, but for now he can only feel the pain of loss.

"I buried Little Ann by the side of Old Dan. I knew that was where she wanted to be. I also buried a part of my life along with my dog." (Billy Colman, Chapter 19, p. 242)

Billy buried his dogs together, so they could be together for eternity. His life is irrevocably changed by both the experience of raising the dogs and the loss of his hounds. He will never again own hounds, because the grief is too much for him to bear again. He and his family are moving to town so the children can attend school, which means his country life is over. He buried along with his dogs a way of life he will never know again.

Related Links:

Where the Red Fern Grows Summary
Where the Red Fern Grows Quiz
Where the Red Fern Grows Chapters 19 - 20 Summary
Where the Red Fern Grows Chapters 1 - 4 Summary
Where the Red Fern Grows Chapters 5 - 7 Summary
Where the Red Fern Grows Important Characters
Literature Summaries

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