Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Perseverance

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Blackberry-picking. Crawfish-catching. Coon-treeing. Mountain lion slaying. Is there anything this kid can't (or won't) do? In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy comes across every possible roadblock on the path to getting his dogs. And he meets every one of them head on—including the really, really big roadblock of losing them tragically. But it's a fine line between perseverance and stubbornness, and Billy often finds himself with one foot on each side. Could you even argue that his stubbornness led to the final fight with the lion? Maybe. But then, if there's anyone more stubborn than Billy, it's Old Dan.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. In what ways is Billy's perseverance similar to Old Dan's? How are they different?
  2. Why doesn't Billy give up when he is met with so many challenges in trying to get and train his dogs? What keeps him going? 
  3. Perseverance is usually looked at as a positive trait. Are there moments in the book where it is portrayed negatively?

Chew on This

Billy's youth helps him persevere. An older boy would have been quicker to give up, because he would have been more realistic about the obstacles.

Where the Red Fern Grows suggests that perseverance is a family trait. Everyone from Billy's mom to his grandpa models persistence.

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