Study Guide

The Yearling

The Yearling Summary

The Yearling is nothing more than your classic "Boy Meets Deer, Deer Eats Boy's Family's Corn, Boy Shoots Deer" story. What more is there to say?

Well, a lot, really. Let's back up.

Jody Baxter is growing up on a little family farm in the woods of Florida, right after the Civil War. (Spoiler Alert: The North won!) His Ma and Pa, Penny and Ora Baxter, do their best to scratch a living from the wilderness, but something's always going wrong—like when Old Slewfoot, a huge, freakishly intelligent bear, kills the pig they were counting on for meat in the winter.

Logical reaction? "We're going on a bear hunt! (We're going on a bear hunt!) We're not scared! (We're not scared!)

They don't catch him (duh, he's freakishly intelligent), but they do come back with a pretty awesome story to tell their closest neighbors, the Forresters. Jody spends the night at their place with his friend Fodder-wing, and thinks it's just great fun when they all end up partying naked in the living room together in the middle of the night. (What? Don't you do that when you have friends over?)

When he gets home and puts his clothes back on, his Pa takes him on a deer hunt, and from there into town to do some trading and visit Grandma Hutto, a family friend. While they're there, her son Oliver gets into a fight with Lem Forrester over—what else?—a girl, named Twink Weatherby. (Awesome names, guys.) Penny and Jody try to break it up, but just end up getting hurt, too.

You've probably noticed: no fawn yet.

They head home, but now Lem is mad at Penny for taking Oliver's side. So he does what anyone would do in a similar situation—steals Penny's remaining pigs. (C'mon, you know you've done it too.) Jody and Penny head out to get them back, but on the way, Penny gets bitten by a rattlesnake. He kills a doe (A deer. A female deer.), uses her organs to draw some of the poison out—totally awesome party trick—and then sends Jody to see if the Forresters will come help him. As he's leaving, Jody notices the doe had a fawn.

No time for cuddling, though: the Forresters agree to help, and even get Doc Wilson to come over, too. Phew. Now Penny is on the mend, the Forresters promise to give the pigs back, and everyone is happy—except Jody. He's worried about the fawn, and his Pa agrees that he can go get it, and raise it as a pet. He can't think of a name for it (Bambi? No. Rudolph? Nah.), so he goes to visit Fodder-wing to see what he can come up with. But it turns out poor Fodder-wing has died! Jody is devastated. Ma Forrester tells him that Fodder-wing had already thought of a name for the fawn, though—Flag.

Back at home, a crazy storm hits the forest and it pours for seven days straight. The crops are ruined, some farm animals are drowned, and the Baxters and the Forresters team up to inspect the damage to the forest. Not so bad—only moderately large numbers of wild game have drowned, and oh yeah, the forest is horribly flooded. And then, after a couple of days, the wild animals that did survive the storm start dying of a strange plague. Other than that, NBD. Well, except that the few wolves left after all this get desperate and start attacking the farm animals.

Okay, fine, it was pretty bad.

They all form a big hunting party, and end up killing the wolves - and capturing some bear cubs. Awww! Apparently, baby bear cubs are this year's Tickle Me Elmo, so they sell them in town and get all kinds of money. Since things are finally looking up for the Baxters, they decide they'll go to the town's Christmas service and festivities. Ma bakes a fruitcake, and sews some new clothes for the family. Everything seems all set—until Old Slewfoot shows up again, and kills their calf. There goes the nice peaceful Christmas.

Penny and Jody head off on another bear hunt and this time actually manage to kill him. The Forresters show up just in time—and drunk as skunks—to help carry the carcass home. Then they all head out to the party in town. When Lem finds out that Twink has married Oliver, he, again, does what any man would do—burns Grandma Hutto's house down, on Christmas Day. Like you do.

Home again, things settle down until Penny hurts himself badly doing the planting. Plus, Flag is growing and getting into more and more trouble, trampling crops and knocking over food containers. Man, fawns these days! When he eats his way through the family's entire corn crop—twice—Pa has had enough, and tells Jody to shoot him. Wait, seriously? Yep. And when Jody just can't do it, his Ma tries her hand, only to end up badly wounding poor Flag. Finally, Jody puts him out of his misery and runs away from home.

For days he wanders through the forest, and then down the river, starving and practically delirious. Finally, some sailors find him, feed him, and send him on his way home. When he gets there, he and his Pa have a chat about how cruel life is, and Jody tells him that now that he's proven himself by slaughtering a helpless animal, he's ready to take on the role of provider. As his Pa tells him, "You ain't a yearlin' no longer, Jody" (33.135). Sniff, sniff.

  • Chapter 1

    • Jody Baxter don't wanna hoe no mo'. (Sorry for the bad grammar, but you'd better get used to it—The Yearling is chock full of it!)
    • Anyway, like we said, Jody's sick of doing his farm chores, and decides to run off to see if he can find a bee tree, instead. What is this, Winnie the Pooh?
    • He takes off through the forest until he finds a hidden spring.
    • He plays around in it for a while before he remembers that he's been wanting to build a flutter-mill. A family friend, Oliver, had made them for him before.
    • Okay, what in the world is a flutter-mill? Check this out.
    • As he watches it turn, he falls asleep on the bank.
    • He wakes up as a light drizzle begins, but when it clears, it's so beautiful that he can't contain himself, and spins around in circles till he falls over. Oh, c'mon, you know you did it too, when you were little.
    • Jody heads back home, and finds his Pa, Penny Baxter, doing his chores for him. Uh-oh…
    • He feels bad, but his Pa understands what it's like to be young, and doesn't tell his Ma he was goofing off. Phew!
    • They eat dinner, and Jody lets it slip that he built a flutter-mill…but luckily, his Ma's not mad.
    • It's been such a perfect day that Jody remembers it his whole life long. Dude, flutter-mills rock.
  • Chapter 2

    • Penny Baxter is lying in bed, thinking. He can't sleep because of the full moon. Hmmm, werewolves, maybe?
    • Nope, he's just wondering if he should have punished Jody.
    • But then he starts remembering his own childhood.
    • His dad was kind of a jerk. He was a farmer and a preacher, and a super-strict dad. There was never enough food for all the kids in the family, and he worked them to the bone.
    • That's why Penny grew up to be so scrawny.
    • It's also the reason he's called Penny. His real name is Ezra Ezekiel Baxter, but Lem Forrester had teased him, saying he was as small as a penny, and the nickname stuck. Bummer.
    • He's super honest, too—Penny once walked miles back to a store to return the extra dollar they'd mistakenly given him in change.
    • To be fair, back in the mid-nineteenth century, a dollar was worth a whole lot more than it is now.
    • People didn't understand why Penny wanted to move into the scrub forest, away from city life.
    • He just needed a peaceful place, away from other people, to heal his spirit after his tough childhood.
    • He got married, bought land from the Forresters, and built a house there, even though the only water source was a sinkhole. Sinkhole water? Yum.
    • He'd intended to have a lot of children—which Lem Forrester had laughed at—and he did…but they had all died as infants.
    • Finally, Jody was born. Hooray!
    • But when the boy was two, Penny had to go off to fight in the Civil War.
    • He brought Jody and his wife, Ora, to live with his old friend Grandma Hutto, and they stayed with her till he came back four years later.
    • Ora was so traumatized by losing so many other babies that she never really shows any affection to Jody.
    • But Penny loves him with all his heart, and wants to allow him a carefree childhood.
  • Chapter 3

    • Jody wakes up, heads to the kitchen, and starts examining himself in the mirror.
    • He declares that he's ugly, and his Ma agrees. Real nice!
    • Then he tells her he wishes he was dark, like the Forresters.
    • She tells him he should be proud he isn't, and that the Forresters are as "black as their hearts."
    • Brain Snack: "dark" and "black" don't mean "African-American" here—it just means dark-haired and sometimes having a slightly darker complexion.
    • Lem Forrester had made fun of him, too, telling him his ears looked funny. Boy, this guy makes the rounds, doesn't he?
    • Suddenly, their old dog Julia starts barking like crazy, and he hears his Pa outside, too.
    • He runs out to find that their brood sow has been killed in the night, and the tracks point to Old Slewfoot, a giant bear with one missing toe. Think he'd get a discount at a nail salon?
    • They drag the carcass to the house to use what meat is left. Mmm bear leftovers.
    • Ma freaks out, and demands to know how the bear got her without the dogs making a fuss.
    • Old Slewfoot is just really smart and sneaky—he knew the wind was in his favor.
    • They sit down to eat breakfast, and tease Ma a little to cheer her up.
  • Chapter 4

    • Penny decides to take Jody hunting for Old Slewfoot. Yee-haw!
    • They pack some food and supplies and head out, following his trail with their dogs.
    • Penny is famous for his hunting ability—he tries to outsmart wild game, instead of just chasing after it and hollering, like the Forresters do. Um, duh. Wouldn't that just scare the animals away?
    • As they walk along, Penny tells Jody not to act like the Forresters, who kill animals they don't intend to eat.
    • He doesn't even kill animals their family needs, if they're eating or mating, unless they're really in desperate straits. He's just cool like that.
    • The dogs catch up to Slewfoot, and Penny loads his gun…
    • …which, for some reason, won't shoot!
    • He keeps pulling the trigger, until finally it backfires, and burns Penny's face. Yeeeoww!
    • Meanwhile, the dogs are in a wild battle with the bear, so Penny runs into the fight and jabs Old Slewfoot in the ribs with his gun. Talk about brave! (And possibly stupid.)
    • Slewfoot runs off, and Penny picks up the dog Julia, who's been hurt badly.
    • They eat the food they brought, and then head home to tend Julia's wounds. Poor pup!
    • Penny wants to keep Julia inside for the night, but Ora refuses to let her in their bedroom.
    • So Penny shares a bed with Jody instead, keeping an eye on her in his room.
    • As they drift off, Penny explains that wild animals aren't bad, they're just trying to survive—like their family
    • Jody feels safe in their little clearing, with his Pa nearby. Nighty-night!
  • Chapter 5

    • Penny has decided to head over to the Forresters' house to trade for a new gun. Ya think?
    • He's going to trade their new dog, who isn't really good for any practical purpose.
    • Jody runs around like a chicken with its head cut off doing his chores, so he can come, too.
    • They ride down an old trail, which Penny tells Jody was made by the Spaniards who settled Florida.
    • Guess we know where this story takes place now.
    • When they come to the Forresters', there's a huge commotion going on inside. (Fight! Fight! Fight!)
    • They stop their argument when they hear Penny, and Jody's crippled friend Fodder-wing comes out to meet him.
    • He's called Fodder-wing because he once tried to fly by attaching a bunch of animal fodder—hay—to his arms and jumping off the barn. Brilliant.
    • Fodder-wing shows Jody his collection of pets, a huge number of adorable wild animals he's tamed.
    • Jody finally asks why they had been fighting, and Fodder-wing tells him it was because one of the dogs had an accident on the floor, and they couldn't agree whose dog did it.
    • Easy to set off, these guys, aren't they?
  • Chapter 6

    • Everyone comes inside: all seven of the Forrester boys, their Ma and Pa, Jody, and Penny.
    • Pa Forrester starts telling Jody about the pet raccoon he had as a child, that was really sweet—until it bit a chunk out of his shin. Ack.
    • Penny is carrying their useless dog, and Lem asks if he's lame.
    • Penny says he's just trying to keep him safe from the Forresters' dogs. Uh-huh.
    • Lem thinks that must mean he's valuable, but Penny keeps denying it, and telling them the truth, that he's good for nothing. Hmmm—he's got something up his sleeve, though.
    • Lem won't believe it. Looks like the trick is working…
    • Penny mentions that his gun is broken, and tells them that he was hunting Slewfoot.
    • The Forresters want to hear the story, but Ma and Pa insist on letting Penny eat and drink first.
    • They all pig out—seriously, they have a huge feast, which for them is a normal lunch, but which stuns Penny and Jody, who aren't used to having much.
    • Before long, another argument breaks out.
    • This time, Pa Forrester puts a stop to it, and brags that even though his boys are rough, they listen to their parents
  • Chapter 7

    • Ma Forrester tells her boys to wash their dishes, which they do! Jody is shocked.
    • Then they all settle down to listen to Penny's hunting story.
    • Penny knows how to make his stories spellbinding, and the Forresters are riveted. It was so good, it was like a "magic, that held these huge hairy men eager and breathless" (7.15). (Hee-hee. Hairy.)
    • Afterwards, Lem insists on trading Penny a new gun for his dog.
    • Penny protests, but Lem says he'll come steal him if he won't trade, so he agrees. (Yes!)
    • They all tell stories now about Slewfoot, and Buck Forrester even fixes Penny's old gun for him, too.
    • Finally, Penny says it's time to go, but Jody decides to spend the night.
    • Fodder-wing tells Jody that he's seen a Spaniard on a black horse riding by the Baxter's sinkhole, which totally freaks Jody out.
    • They go to bed, but not for long—the dogs start chasing something through the house, and all seven Forrester boys are running with them, buck naked.
    • Okay, is it just us, or is that weird?
    • To add to the weirdness, they all decide to stay up and play the fiddle—still naked.
    • So basically, Jody is at a nudist party, singing and laughing, while Ma Forrester cooks them a super-early bird special breakfast.
    • This situation has rapidly moved from weird to awesome.
    • Lem mentions to Jody that he wishes his girlfriend, Twink Weatherby, was there to dance with him.
    • Um, we're betting she's pretty glad she's not there right now.
    • Jody tells him that Twink is Oliver's girlfriend, and Lem threatens to rip his tongue out. Yikes. Sounds like someone needs a nap.
    • Finally, Buck takes Jody home once breakfast is over. With clothes on.
  • Chapter 8

    • Jody gets home and sees a big deer hide stretched on the wall of their smoke-house.
    • He's all mad that his Pa went hunting without him, until Penny explains that the deer was just standing in his path on the way home.
    • Jody thinks about his mixed feelings towards hunting - how he loves the chase, but feels awful when the animal is killed. And then when it's been butchered and cooked, how he can't wait to eat it. We feel you, Jody.
    • Speaking of which, Ma's cooking venison right now, so Jody rushes to do his chores and then comes to the table.
    • He remarks, "I'm so hongry, my belly thinks my throat is cut" (8.57). Huh?
    • Apparently, that's a rude thing to say.
    • Ma and Pa get mad at him, and when he tells them he learned it at the Forresters', it upsets Ma even more.
    • Jody defends them, but Ma won't have it. They're too hungry—or maybe hangry, in this case—to argue for long, though.
  • Chapter 9

    • Penny shows Jody an albino raccoon he caught in a trap.
    • Ma wants to sell the hide, but Penny tells her it's not worth anything (wink, wink), and asks her to make Jody a knapsack out of it.
    • Jody offers to clean the water troughs in their sinkhole, and Penny tells them he wishes he could have a well dug. Bricks are too expensive, you know.
    • Ma chimes in, saying she wouldn't know what to do with so much water. For 20 years she's had to make do with the water Penny carried from the sinkhole. Wow—we bet they turn the water off when they brush their teeth and everything!
    • Jody heads out to clean it, and looks over Penny's awesome set-up.
    • This guy is seriously clever. There's always a seepage of water down into the sinkhole, filtered through the limestone. The pool at the very bottom is where the hogs drink and wallow.
    • But Penny cut several other troughs into the limestone higher up, to catch the seepage. The lowest is for the cows and horse to drink, the next is where Ma does the laundry, and at the top is the one for them to drink and cook with. Pretty clever, right?
    • Jody goes down to the bottom and digs out all the leaves and sand.
    • Then he scrubs the next three troughs out, too, but stops to drink out of the top one. And then sticks his face in it. And then, naturally, does a headstand in it.
    • Of course, that's when his Pa shows up wanting a drink. Turns out he's not that thirsty.
    • Penny tells him he can't believe it's been 20 years that poor Ory has had to make do with the water from the sinkhole.
    • For some reason, Jody chooses this moment to tell Penny he really wants a pet. Penny tells him Ma would say no, even though he wouldn't mind.
  • Chapter 10

    • Jody's sick in bed. His Ma thinks he's got the measles, and has been giving him different teas and medicines, but he thinks he just ate too many berries.
    • Finally, she figures out that he's okay, and sends him outside. Whew! Measles is no joke, Shmoopers.
    • Penny decides to take him fishing.
    • As they walk through the woods, they see six people walking by—they're Minorcans hunting gophers.
    • Okay, wait. What?
    • Penny explains that Minorcans are a people that was exploited in the past—they're sort of like Gypsies, but sort of…not.
    • He doesn't know why they're hunting gophers, though. Maybe they make a medicine out of them?
    • They find a pond, and pretty soon Jody lands a 10-pound bass. Holy moly! That'll feed them for a while.
    • Penny just catches a little fish for Ma, and has Jody throw back another, smaller one he caught.
    • Suddenly, Penny whistles like a quail. It's their signal, sort of like this one
    • He gestures for Jody to come over, and then shows him what he saw—a huge flock of cranes, dancing.
    • They watch, entranced, and when the birds fly away, they head home in silence.
  • Chapter 11

    • Jody starts begging his Ma for a fawn, but she doesn't want to hear it.
    • Penny decides to take him on a deer hunt (to cure him of wanting a fawn?), and stop into town to do some trading afterwards. Then they'll visit Grandma Hutto, an old family friend.
    • On their way, they see some adorable little bear cubs, and Jody desperately wants to keep one. But, of course, the answer is no. Um, yeah.
    • Penny does find a doe and a fawn for Jody to watch, though—which of course makes him want to keep it.
    • They eat lunch, and then keep hunting until Jody and Penny actually manage to shoot a buck.
    • As they're dressing the carcass, Penny teases Jody about a girl. He says Jody was holding hands with Eulalie at a festival, but Jody says it was just a game they were all playing. Jody's got a girlfriend, Jody's got a girlfriend!
    • They walk on into town, and sell most of the venison to Mr. Boyles, the shop owner.
    • Jody looks around the store, and Mr. Boyles offers to give him a dime's worth of anything he wants, since Penny doesn't get out there that often. Cha-ching!
    • He chooses a harmonica, and is very polite about it, so Mr. Boyles praises him to Penny.
    • Just then, Eulalie—who just happens to be Mr. Boyles's niece—shows up. Jody is filled with this crazy, irrational hate for her, and throws a potato at her.
    • Well, what else could a red-blooded, American boy do? Honestly!
    • Penny is furious, and says he can't have the harmonica now. He sends him outside to wait for him. Oooooh—he's in trouble
    • And now, here is the best advice that Penny gives Jody in the entire book. He asks him why he did it, and Jody says it was because she's ugly. Here it comes: "Well, son, you cain't go thru life chunkin' things at all the ugly women you meet" (11.144).
    • Let that be a lesson for all of you, Shmoopers.
    • They head over to Grandma Hutto's, who is thrilled to see them, and to get the venison and deer hide.
    • She is the polar opposite of Ory—super-feminine and welcoming.
    • They jump into the river to clean off, and then Grandma feeds them a fancy dinner.
    • Afterwards, a poor, pitiful man names Easy Ozell shows up. He's in love with Grandma, but hasn't got a chance. He rambles on about the war, and then drifts away.
    • As they go to bed, Jody tells Penny he'd like Grandma Hutto to be his real grandma. He'd want to stay in his own home, but have her move in, and get his Ma to do what she says.
    • Penny defends Ory, saying she lives rough because of him. And then—"'Pore boy,' he said, 'has got to grow up and learn women" (11.240). Ah, yes. Women.
  • Chapter 12

    • The next morning, Jody hears a ship pass Grandma's house, and realizes Oliver has come home.
    • He runs out of his room—stark naked. What is it with these people and nudity?
    • Oliver comes in and greets everyone, and starts handing out presents.
    • And yep, Jody is still naked.
    • His Pa tells him to get dressed, but Grandma takes her shawl and ties it around his waist.
    • Oliver starts telling stories while Grandma makes breakfast.
    • He gives Penny some tobacco from Turkey and Jody a hunting knife. Sweet! Guess they won't be boarding any airplanes today.
    • Jody tells Oliver what Lem Forrester had said about Twink Weatherby, but he laughs it off.
    • Of course, now the talk turns to girls, and Penny teases Jody about Eulalie again. Hee-hee.
    • Grandma doesn't really approve of Ory, and says so.
    • Finally, Oliver leaves to go visit Twink. Jody's mad at him for leaving so soon,
    • Suddenly, Easy comes back to get Penny. Oliver has gotten into a fight at the store with three of the Forresters.
    • Penny and Jody hurry to help, and Jody tries to decide whose side he's on.
    • He figures it out pretty quick, jumps on Lem's back, and starts whaling on him.
    • Penny tries to talk some sense into them, but they won't listen, so he gets pulled into the fray, too.
    • Lem knocks Jody out. Ouch.
  • Chapter 13

    • Jody comes to in a bed at Grandma Hutto's.
    • She and Penny are sitting nearby, worried to death.
    • He's hurt pretty badly, but he's mostly upset that helping Oliver, who left him to visit a dumb girl, might cost him his friendship with Fodder-wing.
    • Still, three against one wasn't fair—he had to help.
    • It's time to head back home, so they say goodbye to Oliver, who's recovering in the next bedroom.
    • Oliver asks Jody to send Twink a message for him.
    • Jody is mad, but agrees.
    • When they get to the store again, though, Mr. Boyles tells him she's left town, so he writes Oliver a note to let him know.
  • Chapter 14

    • Home again, and it's back to work on the farm. Penny realizes all their hogs have been gone for a long time—they roam free, but always come back at night.
    • He figures the Forresters must have trapped them, and decides to take Jody to see. Great.
    • They follow the hog tracks, and see hoof marks and some corn after a few miles—and then, a hog trap. Yep, it was the Forresters, alright.
    • They steel themselves to go confront them, when out of the blue, a rattlesnake bites Penny!
    • He starts stumbling back towards home but stops to shoot a passing doe.
    • Jody thinks he's lost it, but Penny takes out her organs and pressing them to his bite so they can draw some of the poison out. (Heads up: we're pretty sure this doesn't actually work.)
    • Penny sends Jody to get help from the Forresters while he heads back home.
    • As he's leaving, he sees the doe had a fawn. Bing-Bing! Big Neon Sign!
    • He runs to the Forresters, yelling for Fodder-wing, but Lem tells him he's sick and can't come out.
    • He tells Lem and the other Forresters about his Pa, and they agree to help, saying they'd even help a dog who'd been bitten by a snake.
    • They're pretty mean about it, saying he'll probably die.
    • They ride off to help and get Doc Wilson, and Jody starts running home.
    • It starts pouring, and there are creepy animals prowling through the trees around him. Jody starts sobbing, worried that his Pa is already dead.
    • Finally he makes it home. The Forresters and Doc Wilson are all there, and his Pa is still alive, but just barely.
    • Jody realizes that he needs his Pa around to feel safe, and then cries for the fawn, whose mother is now dead.
  • Chapter 15

    • The next morning, Penny is still alive. Woo!
    • Jody helps his Ma cook a huge breakfast for everyone, and Buck Forrester offers to stay with them for a while to help with the farming, until Penny recovers. Whoa—this guy is a Forrester?
    • Jody goes in to talk with Penny, and ask him if he can get the fawn.
    • Penny agrees that it's only fair for them to raise it, since he took its mother.
    • Even though Ory objects, Penny and Doc Wilson override her, and Mill-wheel Forrester takes Jody out to look for it.
    • Mill-wheel tells Jody he didn't know the Baxters were so poor, and that he thinks their hogs will probably show up that night sometime by themselves, cough.
    • He drops Jody off where he had seen the fawn, and Jody soon stumbles across it.
    • The fawn latches on to him pretty quickly. He carries it a while, and then when he gets tired out, the fawn follows him.
    • When he gets home, he shows his Pa, who is as thrilled as you can be when you're full of rattlesnake venom.
    • Ory is not enthused, to say the least, but Penny tells her that they're keeping the fawn, and that's that.
    • Jody feeds it some milk, and makes a bed for it in the shed.
    • Then he runs around trying to be extra helpful to his Ma, who cheers up soon, since she's so relieved that Penny made it.
    • Penny asks Jody what he's going to name the fawn, but he doesn't know yet. Buck says to ask Fodder-wing.
    • Jody brings some food to the fawn and snuggles up with it. It's like a living Pillow Pet!
  • Chapter 16

    • Jody is having the time of his life with the fawn.
    • Buck is doing huge amounts of work for them, and Penny is slowly recovering.
    • One night, some foxes get into the corn crop, so Buck tells Jody he'll show him how to hunt them. This ain't no British fox hunt!
    • First, though, they go gather moss and find a bee-tree, light the moss on fire, and start chopping down the tree.
    • The bees swarm out, and Buck and Jody run to the sinkhole to hide in the mud and water.
    • Once the bees give up, drugged by the smoke, they crack open the tree and get all the honey out.
    • Buck tells the Baxters he'll be leaving in the morning, and teases Penny about trading Lem that useless dog. Out of all the Forresters, Lem's the only one who's really mad at Penny and Jody.
    • That night, Buck takes Jody out to the cornfield, and they shoot two foxes.
    • But while they're out, a bear, attracted by the honey, tries to get the fawn. Not to worry: Buck shoots him, and they split the meat. Mm, bear meat.
    • After everyone goes to sleep, Jody sneaks out and brings the fawn inside to keep him safe.
  • Chapter 17

    • Jody's got to finish hoeing the sweet potato field before he can go visit Fodder-wing to get a name for his fawn.
    • The fawn's totally adorable, and goes everywhere with Jody, but it gets into trouble a lot, too, eating things it shouldn't. Well, don't we all?
    • Jody's been doing most of the farm work since Buck left, and so his Pa tells him that if he'll go get water from the sinkhole, he can stop hoeing, and go see Fodder-wing. Yippee!
    • He heads out with the fawn, and catches sight of some bears fighting. The fawn runs off (wouldn't you?), and Jody continues to the Forresters' house.
    • When he gets there, though, they tell him that Fodder-wing has just died. Oh no!
    • They let Jody in to see his body, and then he hangs around, feeding and watering Fodder-wing's pets.
    • The fawn comes back, and he sits with him, unsure what to do.
    • Finally, he offers to help Ma Forrester out with dinner.
    • She tells him that Fodder-wing had already picked out a name for the fawn—Flag.
    • Jody brings Flag in and agrees to spend the night sitting with Fodder-wing's body.
    • Penny shows up to see what's keeping Jody, and ends up staying over, too.
    • The next morning, they bury him, and Penny says a beautiful prayer for him.
    • When Penny and Jody finally get home, Ory's upset they were gone so long and not very sympathetic about Fodder-wing's death.
    • Penny scolds her for being so hard-hearted, and she says that's the only way she can stand pain.
  • Chapter 18

    • It's August. The crops are growing and the hogs are back, but there's not much to eat at the moment.
    • Jody misses his BFF a lot, but he plays with Flag all the time.
    • One day, they head out to the sinkhole to get water for dinner, and on the way, Jody catches a glimpse of what looks like a Spaniard riding by.
    • It's Fodder-wing's Spaniard! Oh wait. It's just tree branches and moss.
    • He and Flag drink and then watch a mother raccoon fishing nearby.
    • Jody suddenly feels that Fodder-wing is present in the wild animals and trees, and thinks he can endure his death now.
    • He carries home the water, and tries to explain his thoughts to his Pa, but can't quite put them into words.
    • Our little boy is growing up.
  • Chapter 19

    • September arrives, and the Baxters need rain.
    • They're in luck, because it starts to look like rain is headed their way…but then signs start to point to a hurricane. Uh-oh.
    • Right before the storm hits, Jody runs to get the eggs from the chicken coop—just in time to get soaked and almost blown away as he runs back inside.
    • Penny figures it'll be a three-day nor'easter, and they settle in cozily, eating and telling stories. They even let Flag and Julia inside. Don't you just love rainy days?
    • The next day Penny ventures out to milk Trixie the cow and feed the animals, but there's no break in the rain.
    • On the third day, their clearing is flooded, and they're reduced to drinking rainwater. Hmmm, not so fun anymore.
    • When Jody goes out to milk the cow, he finds that she has broken through the bars to her calf, and moved to a higher corner of the barn with her—and there's almost no milk left. Yikes!
    • On the fifth day, Penny and Jody run outside to check on some of the crops. They're all moldy on the outside, but still pretty good inside.
    • The sixth and seventh days, they head out into the downpour again to harvest anything they can possibly save.
    • Even Penny is losing hope now, but finally, on the eighth day, the rain stops. Thank goodness!
    • The entire family steps outside, two by two, like animals coming out of the ark. There had definitely been a floody-woody.
  • Chapter 20

    • Buck and Mill-wheel Forrester show up to see if Penny and Jody want to come with them to take a look at the damage, so they'll know what to expect. Um, we're guessing they're going to find a lot of water.
    • As they ride, they see dead animals scattered everywhere, on the higher dry ground and floating in the flood waters. Freaky.
    • They stop by Doc Wilson's house to check on him, but he's left a note saying he skedaddled to avoid the storm. Smart man.
    • They shoot a bunch of wildcats, so they won't come after their farm animals, and then set up camp for the night.
    • They eat and tell stories, and eventually fall asleep.
    • But suddenly, Penny wakes Jody up. He's heard an alligator nearby! Hey—what do alligators say, anyway? Cows say 'moo'…and apparently alligators say 'whooo?'
    • They run at it to drive it away, and go back to sleep. They can sleep after that?
    • The next morning, they continue their trek, finding a huge flooded area full of fish—and, yikes, bears.
    • They decide to shoot some for the meat, and Jody actually hits one. Go Jody!
    • They load it up onto their horses, and then each family heads for home.
  • Chapter 21

    • All the Baxters' crops are ruined. They try to salvage some by harvesting them early, but most of it is a total write-off, or would be if write-offs existed in the 1870s.
    • The flood waters have gone down, but the entire forest stinks like rotting things. Gag!
    • In desperation, Penny goes out into the woods and cuts some marsh grass for hay.
    • While there, he and Jody see a sick panther and an even sicker buck, with a black, swollen tongue.
    • It looks like there's a plague going through the wild animals, and Jody is terrified Flag will get it.
    • They can't eat any animals that are sick, and can only water their farm animals with their own drinking water. Great, strain their resources even more.
    • Jody keeps asking his Pa questions about the plague, and what's going to happen, but for once, Penny is stumped.
  • Chapter 22

    • So many wild animals have died now, that hunting for food is practically impossible—and the few predators left have gotten way bolder. Super.
    • One night in November, Old Slewfoot returns, and kills another of the Baxters' pigs. He is so mean!
    • Penny gets sick, so they can't hunt him, but they do decide to go ahead and kill the rest of their hogs themselves early, so they can be sure to have at least some meat this winter.
    • Jody gets the job of grinding corn into meal, and lets Flag frolic around him while he works.
    • But Flag's mischief is getting worse. He finds their pile of sweet potatoes and tramples and nibbles them until most of them are ruined. Man, he's just as bad as Slewfoot.
    • Penny tells Jody he's got to keep him locked in the shed when he's not with him, but Flag hates it there so much, Jody decides to build him a pen.
    • He works all day on it, and puts Flag in—only to burst into tears when Flag jumps right out again!
    • Penny helps him build a cage to put the remaining sweet potatoes in, instead.
    • Flag keeps knocking over cans and getting into things, but Jody manages to keep the damage to a minimum. Good thing, too, since they're so short on everything.
  • Chapter 23

    • It's the first frost of the season, and the Baxter family is snug inside by the fire.
    • Even Ma's in a good mood, cracking jokes, and Penny thinks they'll make out okay with food after all.
    • But, of course, that jinxes them, because a pack of wolves shows up and kills their calf.
    • Penny kills one wolf, but the rest escape, so he decides to go ask the Forresters for help hunting them.
    • Jody wants to come, but Ory refuses to stay home alone.
    • When Penny gets back from the Forresters', he tells them they insist on poisoning the wolves, but he refuses to help, saying poison's not fair. Dude. Your family is in danger of starving; maybe it's time to stop worrying so much about fair.
    • Ma and Jody both protest, but he won't hear it.
    • The Forresters go ahead and set out the poison anyway. Oh, well.
    • Buck stops by to tell Penny, and also lets him know that Twink Weatherby has run off with Oliver, and Lem's furious. So what's new?
  • Chapter 24

    • The poison kills all but about a dozen or two wolves, and Penny agrees to help hunt those down the honest way.
    • Jody and Penny rise early to get ready and meet the Forresters. Yay! Field trip!
    • They head out to a water-hole where the few remaining game animals come to drink, and where they think they'll find the wolves, too.
    • As they wait there for the wolves to show, they see a buck. Lem wants to shoot it, but decides the wolves are more important. Wow—could Lem actually be acting reasonable for once?
    • They come up with a plan. Jody will run around behind the wolves and shoot at them to drive them towards the men.
    • He's terrified, but he does it, and they kill 12 wolves.
    • The rest have escaped, but they don't want to risk sending the dogs after them, so they turn their attention to capturing the ten little baby bear cubs they find nearby.
    • They decide the Forresters will sell them in Jacksonville, and while they're there, pick up some things the Baxters need, using their share of the money. Shop till you drop, y'all!
    • When Penny wants to leave, Lem thinks he really intends to go shoot the buck they saw before, but Penny says he just needs to shoot an alligator for dog food. Guess you can't just pick up some Purina at Wal-Mart, after all.
    • They go their separate ways, and Penny gets his gator.
    • But on their way home, a buck crosses their path, and Penny shoots it, too.
    • They get home, and Ma is all excited. She writes up a shopping list for the Forresters to take along with them to Jacksonville.
    • It's like shopping online, but without the internet. Or the computer. And instead of a credit card, you use bears.
    • The next morning, the Forresters stop by on their way to Jacksonville to get the list.
    • As they're leaving again, Lem sees that Penny shot a buck the day before after all, and knocks Penny up against the smoke-house wall. Dude, watch it.
    • Ory runs inside to get Penny's gun, but Penny insists it was pure chance he got that buck—he hadn't been lying to Lem.
    • Lem leaves him, and Buck apologizes. The Forresters head out. Thank goodness.
    • Jody can't understand why his Pa didn't fight back and he hates Lem even more now. We don't blame him one bit.
  • Chapter 25

    • The bear cubs sell for so much that Buck is able to get the Baxters everything on their list, and a little bag of silver and copper, to boot!
    • The Forresters are acting weird towards Penny now, though, and he figures they believe Lem.
    • They decide they can go to the Christmas service and festivities in town this year, since they've got some extra moola.
    • Jody makes his Ma a necklace out of bright red Cherokee bean seeds for a Christmas gift, and hides it in his room. Aww! How sweet!
    • Penny and Jody go deer hunting to get some venison to trade in town, so Ory can buy some fabric.
    • She wants to add a panel to her old wedding dress, so it'll fit well enough to wear to the festival.
    • While they're hunting, the dogs find a deer trail, but refuse to follow it. What's up with that?
    • Penny was furious, till he found out it was Flag's trail.
    • They do shoot some deer, though, and as they prepare to go trading, they decide they'll only make it a day-trip, and not spend the night at Grandma Hutto's, since she and Ory don't get along. (Understatement of the century.)
    • The family gets all dressed up to go into town, and when they get to the store, Mr. Boyles is dying to hear news about the flood.
    • Ory buys ingredients for a fruitcake, but they're out of the fabric she wanted. The black alpaca wool they have is nice, but too expensive. Alpacas are just so cool, aren't they?
    • She sends Jody outside so she can buy him a gift, and then she goes over to Grandma Hutto's alone, to wait for them.
    • Penny doesn't want her to have to do without a new dress, so he buys her the wool after all—enough to make a brand new dress! How romantic!
    • Then he and Jody head over to Grandma Hutto's, where Ory and Grandma are arguing about whether women should wear frills. Seriously?
    • Penny calms them down, and they eat dinner and discuss their Christmas plans.
    • Before they leave, Penny warns Grandma about Lem. Good idea—that guy definitely has some anger management issues.
  • Chapter 26

    • The Baxters' cow has another calf a week before Christmas, which makes it way easier for the fam to leave for a while for Christmas: the calf will take care of the milking for them!
    • Ory makes a giant fruitcake, and when she finishes, Penny gives her the fabric.
    • She bursts into tears of joy, and works for three days and nights making her dress. No helpful mice for her.
    • Buck stops by to tell them that Old Slewfoot killed one of their hogs, and Penny also finds out the Forresters are not coming into town for Christmas. Phew!
    • Everything is all set, and it's three days till Christmas…when Old Slewfoot strikes again, and this time he's killed their new calf.
    • Penny is mad.
    • Like, really, really mad.
    • He goes after him with Jody, and they track him all day.
    • Finally, they assume he'll be back to finish eating the calf that night, so they set a trap there.
    • They get home and conk out asleep, but get up early the next morning to check the trap.
    • Of course, wouldn't you know it—Slewfoot hasn't even come at all. Grrrr.
    • Penny is dead set on getting Slewfoot once and for all, so he tells Ory he's leaving to hunt him, and he's not coming home till he kills him.
    • Ory is devastated—it's Christmas Eve, and after all her hard work, they won't make it to the Christmas festivities after all? C'mon, have a heart, Penny!
    • Penny tells her to drive out to town on her own if they're not back in time. She's upset, but doesn't say anything. Sniff, sniff.
    • Jody and Penny pack up and head out.
    • They find Slewfoot's trail pretty quickly, and Penny shoots but doesn't kill him, so they keep on following.
    • They spend the night in an empty cabin by a creek, which belongs to a woman Penny dated before he married Ory—Nellie Ginright. Interesting.
    • She shows up the next morning, and once they explain their presence, she cooks them Christmas breakfast.
    • They head out afterwards, and find Slewfoot's trail easily. Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum-da-dum.
    • Finally, after a long chase and a huge battle with the dogs, Penny shoots Old Slewfoot and kills him! Woooooooo!
    • Thy can't figure out how to take his carcass home, but just then, the Forresters ride up, drunk as can be, and offer to help for half the meat. Yay?
    • They carry it back to the Baxters' house, and then all ride together into town to the Christmas festival. Is this really a good idea?
    • Buck decides to put on the bearskin, crawl into the church, and scare everyone—and it works, because obviously.
    • Penny and Jody are the stars of the party as they tell everyone about the hunt. Even Ory is proud of them.
    • But no one's very happy the Forresters are there, drunk. Luckily, pretty soon, they leave.
    • Suddenly, Grandma Hutto gets word that Oliver is back, and with Twink! She and the Baxters hurry to her house to keep them away from Lem.
    • When they get there, though—her house is on fire! What?!
    • They think the Forresters did it, when they heard Twink was with Oliver. On Christmas Day? Jerks.
    • Jody runs to tell Oliver, but when they get back, Grandma swears the fire was her fault, so he won't get into another fight.
    • It turns out he has married Twink, and Grandma decides to move to Boston to be closer to them. Phew—crisis averted. Well, except for the house fire.
  • Chapter 27

    • The next morning, Grandma, Oliver, and Twink take the boat to Boston. The Baxters turn out to say goodbye.
    • Then they head home, talking about the Forresters and the fire. You know, the Forrest fire.
    • We'll be here all night, folks.
    • Jody can't wait to see Flag and tell him all about his adventures.
  • Chapter 28

    • Things have quieted down on the farm, now that it's January.
    • The Forresters haven't stopped by to pick up their share of the bear meat, and Penny takes that as proof that they burned down Grandma's house—they're ashamed to show their faces.
    • The Baxters spend their time preparing the fields for crops, and chopping firewood. Good times.
    • One day, they see a wolf on their property, playing nicely with their dogs. They decide not to kill it, since it just seems lonely and harmless. But they don't dare tell Ory.
  • Chapter 29

    • Penny gets hit with a bad case of rheumatism in February and is stuck in bed, worried he won't be up to the spring planting.
    • Meanwhile, Jody does as many chores as he can to help.
    • One day, at the sinkhole, he looks up and realizes how much Flag has grown. He'll be a yearling soon! Hey—isn't that the name of this book or something? And hasn't it been almost a year in Jody's life since the book started?
    • Flag has definitely become more of a problem. He has tricks to get out of any confinement, and knocks food off the table left and right.
    • When Ory wakes up screaming one night, because he had put his wet muzzle to her face, she finally banishes him from the house for good.
    • Jody is mad, but when he wakes up the next morning, Penny calls him outside to show him that Flag has trampled their tobacco plants, and ruined most of them. There goes their money crop. (Maybe Flag was just trying to warn them about the dangers of smoking?)
    • They decide not to tell Ma, but Penny tells Jody to put stakes all throughout the bed, so he won't run through it again.
  • Chapter 30

    • March is beautiful, and Penny and Jody spend days planting crops, with Flag frolicking around them.
    • Penny is working extra hard, to make up for being stuck in bed so long with his rheumatism.
    • One day he tries to pull an old tree stump out of the ground—and keels over in agony. Ya think?
    • Jody has to help him home, where Ma goes into fits, blaming him for pushing himself too hard. Nice.
    • He thinks he just strained himself, and that he'll be fine soon. We'll see.
  • Chapter 31

    • They figure Penny must have "ruptured," or gotten a hernia, because he doesn't recover. Ow!
    • The corn starts growing, and Penny warns Jody to keep Flag away from it.
    • Jody takes Flag squirrel hunting, and everyone is pleased with their success…
    • …until the next day, when Jody goes outside to find that Flag has eaten all the corn crops! Only a few tiny plants are left!
    • Jody is horrified, but has to tell his Pa. Oh man, oh man, oh man.
    • Pa discusses the situation with Ma, and they come up with a fiendishly clever plan.
    • Jody is to go get the ears of corn they still have stored, shell them, and plant those seeds. Then he has to build a strong, tall pen to keep Flag confined.
    • He runs off to obey. Once he finishes the planting, it takes him forever to haul the wood for the pen to their property.
    • Finally, he can start building it, and Ma is so impressed at his days of hard work that she actually helps! Well! There's a first time for everything!
    • They're almost done, when they realize that Flag has eaten the second crop of corn sprouts, too! (Cue the sinking feeling.)
    • Ory goes inside to tell Pa, and he calls Jody in.
    • He tells Jody to take Flag into the woods and shoot him.
  • Chapter 32

    • Jody takes Flag out into the woods, along with Penny's gun, but can't bring himself to shoot him.
    • He frantically tries to think of a way to avoid it, and decides to go see if the Forresters will take Flag to Jacksonville to live in a park! Uh, okay.
    • He hurries to the Forresters', but they're all gone trading except Ma and Pa.
    • He asks Pa Forrester for advice, and Pa says he'd shoot Flag, too, in their situation. Big help he is.
    • Jody decides to take him to Jacksonville himself—but when he stops for a nap, Flag just runs back home, and Jody has to follow.
    • He sneaks into the barn to sleep with Flag there.
    • The next morning, his Ma finds that Flag has eaten the rest of the corn and a bunch of the other newly sprouting crops. What a nightmare!
    • Penny calls for Jody, who tells him he just can't do it. Then he calls for Ma, and tells Jody to go to his room.
    • Next thing he knows, there's a shot.
    • Ma has shot Flag—but only wounded him. Way to go, mom.
    • Jody screams at his parents that he hates them, and chases Flag to the sinkhole, where he shoots him in the neck to end his suffering.
    • Then he vomits and passes out.
  • Chapter 33

    • Jody is running away from home.
    • He is determined to go to Jacksonville, and from there to Boston, where he'll go to sea with Oliver.
    • He hitches a boat ride with a fisherman to Nellie Ginright's cabin, so he can use her old broken-down boat.
    • When he gets there, he fixes it up as best he can, and starts paddling. It's going to be a loooong trip.
    • Jody is still totally horrified at Flag's death and feels like his Pa betrayed him.
    • He camps out that night, starving but nauseated at the thought of Flag's carcass.
    • The next morning, he continues paddling along. When his boat starts taking on water, so he paddles back to shore in a panic.
    • Now he's lost and still starving. Like, actually starving. He keeps paddling until he finds an abandoned cabin.
    • There's just some flour there—but Jody is so desperate, he mixes it with water and eats it. He sleeps there that night.
    • The next day, he finally sees some other ships, but when he waves at them, they don't respond.
    • Exhausted, he collapses, sobbing, and then faints.
    • Finally, some sailors pick him up and feed him. They bring him back into town, and tell him to go home.
    • He heads home, not knowing what else to do.
    • On his way, he finds the place where he had built the flutter-mill last April, and decides to build another. But he doesn't enjoy it anymore. Hm. It's almost like he's been growing up.
    • Suddenly he can't wait to get back to his Pa.
    • He runs home and enters, to see his Pa sitting hunched over by the fire.
    • Penny can't believe he's home, and Jody can't believe he's still wanted.
    • Ma has gone to get more corn seed from the Forresters.
    • Jody eats, and tells Penny what he's done.
    • He tells him he'll take over the farm work now, and Penny can tell he's grown up.
    • Penny talks with him, man to man, about how hard life is.
    • Jody helps him to bed, and thinks of his chores in the morning. Neither Flag nor his Pa will be there to help him, but that's okay—he can handle it now.
    • He dreams of Flag, and of a boy and a yearling, running into the forest, never to return.