Study Guide

The Yearling

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

The Yearling Introduction

You think you've got problems? Imagine living in the middle of a huge forest, miles away from your nearest neighbor, with nothing to depend on for food but your own measly little crops, a few farm animals, and whatever hunting you can do. Pretty rough, right? Okay, now add in a crazed, nine-toed bear who keeps killing off your livestock. Swell. And oh yeah, toss in a violent hurricane that floods the forest and pretty much rids the place of all its wild game. Super. And worst of all, don't forget that terrible, vicious, evil baby deer, who nibbles the very last of your crops down to the ground. Wait—what? Bambi is trying to kill you, too? Yep. That's right.

So what does Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings have against Bambi? Was she the president of the "We Hate Deer" Club, when she wrote The Yearling in 1938?

Don't worry. Rawlings actually spends most of the book showing us how adorable the fawn (a.k.a. the yearling) is, making it into a metaphor for the maturation of the main character, Jody. And she did such stellar job that she won the Pulitzer Prize and saw her book made into movies, a TV series, and even a musical. That's when you know you've hit the literary jackpot. Harry Potter may have his puppet pals, but The Yearling's got the full-fledged Broadway treatment.

Somewhere in all that singing and dancing, some important issues are addressed, too: Poverty and racism, violence and revenge, and even big picture stuff like life and death, and growing up. Turns out Bambi is a pretty good friend of Rawlings's, after all.

What is The Yearling About and Why Should I Care?

Ah, yes! Do come in, won't you? Please, please, take a seat!

Welcome to Chez Baxter! Let's see what's on the menu tonight, shall we?

Organic poke-greens, sautéed with free range, hormone- and antibiotic-free bacon

Hand-rolled, fried "sand-bugger" patties, made of locally-grown potatoes and non-genetically modified onions, and wild "cooter" (snapping turtle)

Artisan-crafted sour orange biscuits

Spiced, sustainably-grown sweet potato "pone" (cornbread cake)

Fresh, raw milk from a humanely-raised cow

Yes, indeed, we take our fine dining seriously here at Chalet Baxter—only the very best gourmet, organic, sustainable, humane food for us! Just check out our rave reviews:

"I'm eatin' it quick, […] but I'll remember it a long time." - Jody Baxter (1.68)

"Blest if I don't get hungry when I'm sober." -Doc Wilson (15.78)

"Hit jest look plain nasty to me, son." -Penny Baxter (15.254)

Well, er…all right, maybe they just take all that hard work for granted, you know? Maybe they don't understand the fine art of haute cuisine?

Or, maybe, this type of food was the norm back then. When you lived on a farm in the woods right after the Civil War, everything you ate was organic, sustainable, and locally grown—because you grew it. This was the original green lifestyle. Every bag of organic veggie chips you buy at Whole Foods today is our society's way of trying to get back to these roots. For us, organic food is an expensive luxury: for the Baxters it was a matter of survival.

Interesting thought—if everyone today suddenly had to grow all their own food, do you think "going green" would be as popular as it is now? And do books like The Yearling help us see why grocery stores and fluoride aren't necessarily the corrupt, big-ag slash big-pharm evil they're sometimes made out to be?

The Yearling Resources

Websites

You Know You Want In
All true fans join the Rawlings society.

Pack a Picnic
Marjorie's old house is now a park. Bring a Frisbee; watch out for the panthers.

Movie or TV Productions

Screenworthy
The 1946 movie stars Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman. Don't you hate it when you get a movie star crush on someone from an old movie 'cause now they're like 98 and don't really go out on dates anymore?

Star Power
Philip Seymour Hoffman lent some gravitas to this 1994 TV movie. RIP.

Anime Style
If you want your Yearling with even bigger doe-eyes, check out this highly rated 1983 version.

Put It to Music
So there was a musical, but it only ran for three performances. Listen at your own risk.

Articles and Interviews

Interview With a Vampire. We Mean Writer.
In 1942, Marjorie did an interview with a writer from a Florida girl's college. It's adorable.

Video

Music to Our Ear
The theme music from The Yearling movie is almost as beautiful and Rawlings's descriptions of nature!

Spoiler Alert
In this movie clip, Jody comes home.

What You've All Been Waiting For
And…start wasting hours of your life…..now. Here's Part 1 of the first episode of the anime series. Have fun!

Eat Like Jody
There's Yearling Restaurant, and they serve venison.

At Home With the Author
Something tells us that this house isn't Ma Baxter's style.

Being Marjorie
Meet Marjorie—or at least a woman who plays her on TV.

She's No Penguin.
Get all the Marjorie facts in this documentary.

The Rawlings State Park
Florida shore is purty, Pa!

Audio

An Interview with Marjorie and her Maid… Sort of
Here's actual audio of Rawlings talking, and her maid singing in the background. Yes, it's as weird as it sounds.

Kickin' It Old School
Part One of the radio adaptation, with all the same stars who were in the movie! How do they make those awesome radio sound effects?!

Radio Adaptation, Part 2
Take a bathroom break and come right back.

Radio Adaptation, Part 3
Let's go to the lobby, let's go to the lobby…oh wait, this is radio. Never mind.

Why did I Choose You?
Barbra Streisand singing a song from the musical that never quite was…

The Kind of Man a Woman Needs
Barbra Streisand again. Can you really picture her as Ora Baxter?

I'm All Smiles
Barbra Streisand yet again. She really liked The Yearling, didn't she?

Images

Lovely Lady
Some old photos of Rawlings.

Cover Up
The 1938 original book cover. We hear it's about a boy and deer.

Pirate Shirt
Is it just us, or does Jody look way too clean on this cover?

Award-Winning
This cover has the Pulitzer stamp of approval.

Tragedy in Technicolor
This movie poster hits all the same notes: boy + deer.

Murder Most Foul
Slewfoot strikes again, in this shot from the movie.

Moment of Truth
Here's Jody, protesting the inevitable. (You're going to shoot him, Jody.)

Seal It Like an Envelope
You know you've made it when you get to be on a stamp.