Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 3

By Wilson Rawls

Chapter 3

  • Billy starts working on the farm. Has it cured him of his dog-lust? No way. He wants his coonhounds just as much as ever.
  • One day, while hoeing corn down by the river, Billy sees an abandoned fisherman camp. So he does what any 11-year-old boy would do: snoops around.
  • In the camp, he finds a sportsman's magazine that changes his life (his words not ours.)
  • In the back of the magazine is an ad for redbone coonhound pups, just $25 a piece. But remember this isn't $25 in the present day when that'll barely buy you a 3D movie ticket. For Billy, this is a fortune.
  • But that doesn't matter. At this point Billy is lost in the daydream of hound puppies.
  • But how is he going to find the $50 he needs for the puppies? He remembers a passage from the Bible: "God helps those who help themselves" (3.8).
  • Tasty brain snack: turns out, that phrase is not in the Bible. It actually comes from Greek tragedy, at least in the Western World.
  • Okay, back to the story. On his way home, Billy comes up with a plan to save the money. He'll sell vegetables and berries to fishermen in the summer, he'll sell whatever he could trap during the winter, and he'll save every penny he earns till he has enough to buy those hound pups.
  • Before he even earns a penny he starts planning their doghouse, imagining the collars he'll make and trying out names. And then probably writing those names down in his Trapper Keeper (do they still make those?) and surrounding them with little sparkly hearts.
  • He finds a K.C. Baking Powder can in the trash pile and shines it all up to use as a bank.
  • Off to work. Billy picks berries till his hands are raw and scratched; he traps and skins animals, then sells the hides at his grandpa's store; and he saves. Every penny.
  • At one point his grandpa asks him what he is doing with the money he earns, and Billy tells him all about the pups.
  • Billy asks if he'll order them for him when he has the money, since you probably have to be 18 or older and all. His grandpa agrees, but totally doesn't believe that Billy can really save all that money.
  • Cue montage. Weeks pass. Then months. Finally, after two long, slow years Billy earns the money he needs.
  • After counting his money over and over like some Scrooge McDuck, he runs down to his grandpa's store.
  • His grandpa is so surprised that there's a minute when he thinks Billy might have stolen the money.
  • But when Billy clears it up for him, his grandpa starts to tear up and tells him he'll order the pups for him.
  • Now comes the awesome part. His grandpa hands him a candy bag, and tells him to fill it up. So, Billy's getting his dogs and a bag of candy.
  • Seriously, can life get any better?
  • Now, it's been a long time since Billy had any candy. A long, long time. So, you'd expect him to sit down outside the door and scarf it up right away.
  • Instead, he takes it him, spreads it out on the bed, and shares it with his younger sisters.
  • Aw, what a guy, right? All our brother ever gave us was wedgies. (Just kidding, bro! We love you!)