Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W: Wilson Rawls & WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS

“It's strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man's mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you've seen, or something you've heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.” -Wilson Rawls, WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS

When I was in junior high, I had a thick and heavy textbook in my English class. It was filled with short stories and it included the novel, Wilson Rawls's WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (Yearling, MG), historical fiction about a man Billy remembering his childhood when he was boy who hunted raccoons with his pet hounds at night. One day we had a substitute and she assigned the first few chapters of RED FERN for reading homework. When the real teacher came back, I was disappointed she didn't assign any more reading chapters. (The other kids were relieved but I was a book worm even then!) 

Since junior high, I have read RED FERN from cover to cover. The setting of the Ozarks in Cherokee land was beautifully illustrated. Within this setting, two things struck me: One, religion was comfortably woven into RED FERN. I've heard from industry professionals that working religion into kidlit is a risky thing to do, how it might affect market interest. But RED FERN has been out since 1961 and it's still considered a classic. And two, the setting was considered safe enough for Billy to be out alone at night with his hounds while he hunted. Once, Billy even stayed out overnight without telling his parents. And Billy was considered a good kid and his parents, good parents. I can't imagine most parents today allowing their 'tweens and even teens to stay out like this alone, even if the area is supposed to be "safe." It's interesting to see the contrast between what was considered acceptable parenting back then versus what's acceptable today.

Have you read WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS? What are your thoughts about religion in fiction?  What other contrasts between acceptable parenting during the good ole days versus now can you think of?

14 comments:

Em-Musing said...

I've not read the book, but I am interested and it sounds like a good read for my grandchildren. I'm going to check it out and order it on Amazon and when I'm back in the States I can give it to them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ninety-five percent of the world believes in God, so religion should be acceptable in books.
I remember the movie. Very sad.

Random Musings said...

I think in those days the world was really no safer than it is now, you just didn't hear the bad things talked about so much
Debbie

S.P. Bowers said...

Recently I saw something about parents who had their kids taken away by social services for allowing the kids to play outside IN THEIR OWN YARD alone. It definitely is a different world. I've never read this book. The movie scared me so much I just never wanted to. Maybe now as an adult I should try.

M.J. Fifield said...

I read this book a few times. It broke my heart every time. Old Dan and Little Ann! But it's a great, great novel.

Pat Hatt said...

A really good novel indeed, the movie was done great too. It religion works for the story, let it be in.

Stephanie Faris said...

I remember watching the movie in sixth grade. I think it was a "last day of school" prize or something to let us watch a movie? I tend to remember things incorrectly, though. But how sad about the dogs. That's all I remember...and I wasn't even a dog person back then. I couldn't read the book...still can't.

Jo said...

Never read it but if it's sad, not sure I want to. As for religion, the Narnia Chronicles are a good example of that. I wonder if Alex's 95% is accurate.

diedre Knight said...

I loved everything about the book! Haven't yet seen the movie, but I'd like to:-)

Liz A. said...

I'm pretty sure I've read it, but I don't remember it. Tragic ending, right?

I see stuff on Facebook all the time about the differences in childhood then and now. It's a pendulum. It'll swing back eventually.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have not read Where the Red Fern Grows, will add it to my TBR list.

Elizabeth said...

I have not read it, but the movie was so sad! I think including religion is fine, especially when it flows well with the story.

Megan Herbert said...

I read it when I was a kid, but haven't read it since. ~Meg Writer‘s Crossings

Sarah Zama said...

I have never heard of this story. And yes, it is intersting to see how things change over time.

Post a Comment