Study Guide

The Forresters in The Yearling

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

The Forresters

The Forresters are a huge family living a few miles from the Baxters in the woods, and we're talking huge in size as well as quantity. Ma and Pa Forrester have six giant strapping sons, along with poor little Fodder-wing. (Fodder-wing gets his very own "Character Analysis," so check that for more on the beloved family runt.)

Oh, I'm a Forrester and I'm Okay

The Forresters are not the type of friends you want to invite to a dinner party: they're loud, violent, wild, and mean. They fight among themselves at home, and fight with others when they're away. Three of them attack Oliver Hutto because Lem Forrester wants his girlfriend—and when Penny and Jody step in to break it up, they beat them up, too.

Oh, and they also burn down Grandma Hutto's house on Christmas Day, for pretty much the same reason. Everyone in town is intimidated by them, and Ma Baxter straight out hates them: "Ever' one of 'em's lower'n a doodle-bug. And black-hearted to boot" (8.63). Burn!

But they do have their good moments. They act…mostly civilized when they go on group hunting trips with the Baxters, and, when Penny gets bitten by a rattlesnake they immediately come to help. Of course, they do insult him the whole time, with Buck saying, "I'd he'p a dog, was snake-bit. Spare your thanks" (14.126). They may be willing to help a neighbor, but they're not willing to be nice about it.

Diff'rent Strokes for Diff'rent Folks

Out of the whole group of Forresters, only three really stand out. There's Fodder-wing, of course. Of the big boys, Lem is the mean one, constantly fighting and arguing with everyone over every little thing. And Buck is the nice one, who's even willing to stay with the Baxters to help out with the heavy farm work while Penny recovers from the snake bite.

One thing's true of all of them, though. They love Fodder-wing, and they love their parents. As Pa Forrester says,

My boys is rough, I know. They don't do what they ought. They drink a heap and they fight and ary woman wants to git away from 'em has got to run like a doe. But I'll say this for 'em—they ain't nary one of 'em has ever cussed his mammy or his pappy at the table. (6.58)

Translation: they may be drunk, violent, and possibly rapists—but they're respectful to their parents. So, yay?

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