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Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

by Wilson Rawls

Poverty Theme

Okay, so we're not exactly talking poverty on a Charles Dickens level, but this family sure doesn't have much. What's weird is that, in Where the Red Fern Grows, poverty ends up seeming like a blessing. Poverty lets Billy grow up in an idyllic pastoral forest; poverty gives Billy the opportunity to learn all about hard work while figuring out how to get his dogs. Lucky him!

Questions About Poverty

  1. Is it an overstatement to say the Colman family is poor? If so, how would you characterize their financial situation?
  2. Aside from not having the money to initially buy the dogs, does being poor ever hold Billy back?
  3. Does Billy's poverty make him an underdog (no pun intended)?
  4. How are people with money portrayed in the novel?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The novel depicts poverty positively, because it allows Billy to stay in the country longer and hunt with his dogs.

Billy's poverty makes him a more sympathetic character. Without it, we wouldn't be so interested in him.

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