Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Coming of Age

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Coming of Age

You want a quick way to gain some maturity? Get yourself a pet. And then wait for it to die. Yeah, nothing makes you grow up like some responsibility and tragedy. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy does a whole lot of growing up once he gets his dogs. He trains them, cares for them, and certainly learns from them. Eventually he even uses them to bring in money for the family, which gives him more responsibility as a family breadwinner. This isn't just a book about two dogs and a boy; it's about two dogs turning a boy into a man.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. What do you think is the most important experience in helping Billy grow up?
  2. Under what circumstances could a boy Billy's age be considered a "man"? 
  3. In what ways is Billy still a boy at the end of the novel? How has he changed from the beginning of the story?

Chew on This

In order for Billy to mature fully, he must experience the loss of his hounds.

Billy's transformation to adulthood doesn't begin until he starts hunting. Until then he is still immature.

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