Where The Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, follows the life of a young boy named Billy who lives in the Ozark Mountains with his Mamma, Papa, and three sisters. Because of his passion for coon hunting, he secretly saves up for two hunting dogs, and names them “Old Dan” and “Little Ann”. They go on countless adventures through the Cherokee country. Rawls writes, “A loving three-some, they ranged dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains-and, Billy had the will to train the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too.
” Because of the motifs presented throughout the book, it is a questionable as to the value of reading Where The Red Fern Grows. First, there is an excessive amount of religion in Where The Red Fern Grows, which could offend some readers. Billy’s mother speaks about God when anything goes wrong and the family prays at meal times. Billy’s little sister asked her mom if God would let Old Dan die. Also, Billy prayed for his dogs when they were dying. Along with the religious level of the book, it also covers a very aggressive level as well. Wilson Rawls adds a large amount of violence in Where The Red Fern Grows.
Every time Old Dan and Little Ann kill a raccoon, there is a fight. Rainie and Rubin threaten to kill Old Dan and Little Ann because they were killing his dog, Old Blue. Because of this confrontation, Rubin ends up falling on an ax and dies when he tries to break the dogs apart. When Little Ann and Old Dan treed the mountain cat there was a deadly and terrifying fight. “I had cut the big cat several times. Blood showed red on the bit of the ax, but as yet I had not gotten in the fatal lick. I knew it had to be soon for my dogs were no match against the razor-sharp claws and the long, yellow fangs.
” There is more description of violence than needed throughout this book. Where The Red Fern Grows also, has too much death in general. Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann killed a lot of raccoons throughout the book. Secondly, Rubin died on the night of the “ghost coon” hunt when he fell on Billy’s ax. Also, Old Dan died from protecting Billy against the mountain cat. Little Ann died of sadness caused by the loss of her beloved companion. “My father came and looked at her. He shook his head and said, Billy it is no use. The life has gone out of her. She has no will to live.
” The amount of death in this book is definitely overwhelming. Thanks to the negative tones presented in the book, little comes from reading Where The Red Fern Grows. The amount of religion is overpowering and can offend some of the readers. There is too much violence in the text, which can make people feel uncomfortable when reading the book. The overall presence of death throughout the novel casts a shadow of sorrow over a book, which could cause some readers to miss the genuinely heart-warming story it presents. In conclusion, Where The Red Fern Grows is a very powerful book, but in a very negative way.