Study Guide

The Yearling Chapter 2

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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.

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