Study Guide

The Yearling Life

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


Like most good books, The Yearling saves its big punches for the end. In this case, we get hammered like Jody in a brawl with the Forresters: life is hard. Sure, we experience all the harsh-itude throughout the book, what with the storm and the flood and the mean animals and people. But in the end, Penny spells it out for Jody: life is cruel and hard, but you have to keep on living anyway.

Questions About Life

  1. What is the big-picture meaning-of-life for Penny? Why does he think we're all here?
  2. Do you think the Forresters see life as harsh and unforgiving, too? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think Jody really understands what his father is telling him, after just a few days on his own? Does he agree?
  4. Do Ma and Pa Baxter have different views on life, or would Ma basically agree with Penny?

Chew on This

If Penny had his heart-to-heart with Jody earlier, Jody would never have run away.

Life may have been hard for the Baxters, but Penny's experiences aren't universal. For wealthier people living in town, life could be pretty great.

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