Chapter 20 Notes from Where the Red Fern Grows

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Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 20

The following spring, Billy and his family move out of the Ozarks. Everyone is in high spirits. Billy goes to see Old Dan and Little Ann's grave one more time before he leaves.

When he gets to their graves, he sees that a wild bush grew over their mounds. At first he is mad and goes to cut it down, but then he realizes something. As he gets closer to the bush, he sees it is a red fern. The red fern sprung up between the two graves and grew out in arches over each mound. Billy is astonished as he recalls the old Indian legend of the red fern. The legend is about a little girl and a little boy who got lost in a blizzard and froze to death. In the spring, when they were found, a beautiful red fern had sprung up between them. The fern is thought to be sacred, as only an angel can plant the seeds, and once they are planted, the fern will never die.

Billy calls Mama over to come and look. Mama, Papa, and the girls rush to see what is the matter. They are all in shock at the red fern, especially Mama. Papa says that maybe this is God's way of helping Billy understand why his dogs died. Billy agrees. They leave Billy alone to say his final goodbye to his dogs. He says goodbye and that he will never forget them or the red fern.

As Papa is driving away, he stops and they all look back at the beautiful sight. They can see the red fern standing tall in the distance. Billy vows to never forget these hills. His sisters cry and they all drive away.

Billy, as an older man, says that he has never been back to the hills, but someday he would like to go back. He would like to walk along the trails once more, to touch a sycamore, to see his house and the barn, to find an ax and a lantern somewhere in those woods, and to see his dogs. He knows the fern is still there and has probably grown completely over the mounds:

"I'm sure the red fern has grown and has completely covered the two little mounds. I know it is still there, hiding its secret beneath those long, red leaves, but it wouldn't be hidden from me for part of my life is buried there too. Yes, I know it is still there, for in my heart I believe the legend of the sacred red fern." Chapter 20, pg. 249

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