Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • Chapter two opens with puppy love. No, not the boy-meets-girl kind of puppy love, but actual puppy puppy love. We mean the kind with four legs and a tail.
  • The narrator, Billy, has sent us back to a time when he was 10 years old.
  • So, the narrator is 10 years old and deeply, deeply, deeply in love with dogs. (Girls have cooties.)
  • But not just any dog, he wants a coonhound (a type of hound that hunts raccoons. Hey, truth in advertising).
  • And he doesn't just want one; he wants two.
  • This is a problem. See Billy's family is going through a bit of hard luck and doesn't have any extra money. But does this deter Billy? Not a chance.
  • He continues to ask his parents.
  • His dad tells him flat out they don't have the money. His mom says he's too young to be hunting with hounds, and that he can't have a gun till he's 21 anyway.
  • Don't anyone tell the NRA about that.
  • Billy is bummed. They live in primo hunting country, and Billy has been wandering the woods tracking raccoons for as long as he can remember. This kid would lie for hours just staring at raccoon tracks, thinking about their cute little hands, and wanting to kill them.
  • Billy's dog crush gets worse. He starts to lose weight and his parents become concerned about his health, but there is nothing they can do because they don't have any extra money.
  • So Billy decides to make the ultimate sacrifice. He tells his dad he could live with just one dog rather than two.
  • Dad tells him how hard times are and that if he could he would buy him the hounds in an instant. This breaks poor little Billy's heart, and he cries himself to sleep.
  • To be honest, it probably breaks his dad's heart, too.
  • Things perk up for Billy the next day when his dad brings him home three small steel traps from the town store.
  • Billy starts trapping anything he can. Unfortunately, his most common catch is the house cat Sammie, until Sammie gets fed up with the constant threat of death and leaves home.
  • Billy continues to play with his traps, and the only thing he can't trap is a raccoon.
  • But he has fun anyway setting his traps and collecting his game.
  • You know how when you get a new toy it seems like the most amazing thing ever, but after a while the fun sort of wears off? That's exactly what happened with Billy, only worse. Trapping in the woods had given him bloodlust (or something), and now he wants some hunting dogs more than ever.
  • When hunting season opens, he hears hounds all night in the woods. He starts to lose weight again and stops sleeping.
  • His mom is worried, but his dad figures he's been cooped up all winter and just needs to get out in the sun. So he decides to let Billy help on the farm, "it'll put some muscle on him" (2.73).
  • Oh, just what Billy wants. We're so sure that backbreaking labor is just the ticket. Give the kid a Nintendo DS, fer cryin' out loud! That'll take his mind off things.

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