Notes on Characters from Where the Red Fern Grows

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Where the Red Fern Grows Major Characters

Billy Colman: Main character of the story. Billy's love and devotion to his dogs lead him on a mission to train his dogs to be the best hunting dogs in the valley. Through the process of fulfilling this mission, Billy undergoes tremendous self-development as he matures into a young man. The memory of his dogs as well as his life lessons, including love, devotion, and bravery stick with him even through his adult life.

Papa: Billy's father. He is a farmer and will do just about anything to make Billy happy. When Billy is upset over not getting the dogs, Papa buys Billy three steel traps to make Billy feel better. He teaches Billy how to use the traps. Papa is very proud of Billy's determination and commitment to his dogs and hunting raccoons; he is proud of his son's development into a young man. He is the one who always calms Mama's fears about Billy's safety.

Mama: Billy's mother. Similar to Papa, Mama also will do just about anything to see Billy happy. Although Billy's constant begging for the dogs starts to annoy Mama, she is heartbroken over her son's grief. When Billy finally gets the dogs and starts hunting, Mama is constantly worried about him. She is always thinking that it is too dangerous for him to be out in the wood all alone at night and cares greatly for his safety.

Old Man Hatfield: A neighbor of Billy's. His dog is having collie puppies and Billy's parents offer to get Billy one of the pups, but Billy refuses because he only wants coon hounds.

Grandpa: Billy's grandpa. Billy works for two years in his Grandpa's store and saves all of his money. When Billy finally saves $50, Grandpa helps him to get the dogs. Grandpa is astonished to the point of tears; he is so proud of Billy's hard work and dedication. Grandpa frequently helps Billy out, like when he helps Billy to make the scarecrow in front of the big sycamore tree to keep the coon from getting down out of the tree. Billy greatly respects and appreciates his Grandpa's advice and help.

Rubin Pritchard: Older brother of Rainie Pritchard. He has a very bad reputation; he is known for stealing, fighting, and causing trouble with his younger brother, Rainie. Rubin is two years older than Billy. He is a big boy with mean eyes. He bets Billy two dollars that Old Dan and Little Ann cannot tree the ghost coon.

Rainie Pritchard: Younger brother of Rubin Pritchard. Rainie is about Billy's age and known for causing trouble wherever he goes. He is a nervous boy, and is not liked by anyone. Billy says that he has the meanest disposition out of any boy he has ever known. He always wants to make bets.

Minor Characters

Billy's sisters: Billy has three sisters. One is older and the other two are younger. They share Billy's excitement over having two hounds in the house. Billy is close with his sisters and always offers them some of the candy that Grandpa gives him. They are very grateful.

Grandma: Billy's grandmother. She checks up on Grandpa to make sure he has everything he needs for the trip to the coon-hunting contest.

Mr. Kyle: One of the hunters in the contest. He owns the dog that is runner-up in the beauty contest. Little Ann is the winner of the contest.

Mr. Benson: One of the hunters in the contest. He is the one that finds Billy's dogs. Then, he finds Billy and the rest of the hunters to tell them what he found - that the dogs are alive, but covered in ice.

Dr. Latham: One of the hunters in the contest. He helps Grandpa with his twisted ankle back at the campground. After the contest, Dr. Latham takes Grandpa into town to put a cast on his ankle.

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