Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

  • We begin on a beautiful spring day. The narrator is just leaving his office, and he is very specific in telling us that this is a perfectly normal day.
  • There is nothing special about it at all, nothing whatsoever, nada, zip.
  • While thinking about all this normalness, he hears the sounds of a dogfight.
  • He doesn't think much about it until he sees the fight: a handful of dogs are teamed up against a redbone hound.
  • He watches as one after another these dogs try to attack the hound. He decides to help the hound, saying, "I had seen the time when an old hound like that had given his life so that I might live" (1.8). Hmmm, sounds to us like there's a story there.
  • He wades into the fight (don't try this at home, Shmoopers), and shoos off all the attacking dogs.
  • On closer inspection, the narrator sees that the dog is dirty and skinny, and has a homemade collar. Clearly this is a country dog, not a city dog. 
  • We also find out that the dog's name is Buddie (cute), and most likely belongs to a little boy.
  • The narrator, whose name we still don't know, takes the dog home. He feeds him and cleans him up.
  • Buddie hangs around that evening and all the next day, but by the next evening he is restless to be on his way.
  • Letting him go, the narrator watches Buddie walk away into the sunset.
  • For the rest of the chapter, the narrator reflects on who Buddie might have been and where he might have come from: "something drastic must have happened in his life, as it is very unusual for a hound to be traveling all alone" (1.30).
  • His reflections on Buddie lead him to memories of his boyhood days, and two hounds of his own. He tells us that the story is a sad one, so be prepared with a tissue. Actually, scratch that, grab a whole box.
  • The narrator returns to his house, but leaves the gate open just in case Buddie wants to come back.
  • Come on, dude, you can't take a dog from a little boy.
  • In his house, he builds a fire and examines two cups on the mantel. One is gold and the other, slightly smaller, cup is silver.
  • Looking at the cups, the narrator begins to remember the story behind them, probably complete with flashback music and wavy visual effects.

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