Notes on Where the Red Fern Grows Themes

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Where the Red Fern Grows Topic Tracking: Love

Love 1: Billy has worked for two long years saving every penny so that he could buy the things he has wanted for a long time - two redbone hunting hounds. He finally saves enough money and walks on foot to pick his dogs up in Tahlequah. When he arrives at the depot and sees his pups for the first time, it is too much for Billy to handle. All of his hard work has finally paid off and he can hardly believe it is true. He spent so many long days dreaming about having dogs of his own and now he finally does. He does not know what to do except to cry out of utter happiness.

Love 2: On their way home from Tahlequah, Billy and his dogs have to sleep in a cave. The sound of a mountain lion frightens Billy and his dogs. He builds a fire to keep the lion away. Billy feels very defensive and is willing to do anything to protect the pups he has worked so hard to get. He even says he is willing to die for them.

Love 3: Billy has spent the entire summer training his dogs for the upcoming hunting season. He has gotten to know their every move and they have gotten to know Billy's every move as well. They follow Billy around everywhere he goes. Billy and his dogs have a very special connection. They understand each other even though they speak completely different languages. Billy understands them just by their eyes or their wagging tails and they understand Billy. It is a unique and special bond.

Love 4: During one of the dogs' hunts, they chase a coon up the biggest sycamore tree in the entire river bottom. Billy doesn't think he can chop it down, but he tries anyway. It takes him two days of backbreaking work to cut the tree down, but he doesn't give up because of the promise he made to his dogs. He promised them that if they treed a coon, then he would do the rest and chop it down. He will not go back on his word to his dogs. He cares about their relationship and his promise too much to go back on his word.

Love 5: Sometimes Billy hangs out at Grandpa's store. When the other hunters are there, Billy and the hunters exchange tales about their hunting adventures. Every now and then the hunters make fun of Old Dan and Little Ann. They say that Billy's dogs are small and that Little Ann isn't half as smart as Billy says she is. Hearing negative remarks about his dogs greatly offends Billy. He says that it makes his blood boil. His anger is a direct result of how much love he feels for his dogs. He worked too hard and cares too much about his dogs to not let someone's mean comments offend him.

Love 6: During one the dogs' hunts, Little Ann falls into the frozen river. Billy sees she is in desperate trouble. He takes off his clothes, wades into the frozen water, and hooks her collar with his lantern wire. He pulls her out and is thankful that she is ok. Billy loves his dog too much to just let her die in the water. He goes so far as to risk his own life to save the life of his dog.

Love 7: Billy leaves Grandpa's store after Grandpa has just told him about the championship coon hunt that Billy is going to participate in with his dogs. Billy is on top of the world. He thinks back to all the wonderful things that have happened to him over the past two years of his life and he is so thankful for all of them. He thinks about getting his dogs, how lucky he is to have his Mama, Papa, and three sisters, how lucky he is to have Grandpa, and now to be entered in a championship coon hunt. It is all too much for him to take and he says that his heart is bursting with happiness.

Love 8: The dogs begin their first night of hunting during the championship coon hunt. They catch two coons and are soon barking treed for a third coon. However, when they get to the tree, they see that there is no coon. The coon seems to have pulled a trick on the dogs. Papa, Grandpa, and the judge tell Billy to give up and move on to another area to hunt, but Billy refuses. The love and faith he has in his dogs make him confidant that they will catch the coon. Billy stands by his dogs and they eventually catch the coon.

Love 9: During the final night of hunting at the championship coon hunt, a bad storm approaches. Old Dan and Little Ann get lost in the storm. Papa, Grandpa, and the judge want to leave and find their way back to the buggy, but Billy refuses. He would never leave his dogs out in a storm by themselves. He loves them too much to just leave them out in the cold. He says that if he has to look for his dogs by himself, then he will do just that, but he will not leave them.

Love 10: Old Dan and Little Ann stay by the tree all night, so the coon won't escape. Even though they got covered in ice from head to toe from the ice storm, they did not give up. Somehow they knew that Billy needed one more coon to win the championship hunt. Everyone is impressed with Billy's dogs. Mr. Kyle says that people have been trying to understand dogs for years. He says the only way to explain Old Dan and Little Ann's behavior is love, for dogs have a special kind of love for their masters - the deepest kind.

Love 11: Billy is out hunting with his dogs one night and instead of treeing a coon, they end up treeing a mountain lion. Old Dan and Little Ann get into a terrible fight with the lion and the dogs are badly hurt. At one point, the lion is about to go after Billy. In an instant, Old Dan and Little Ann jump right in between the lion and Billy, saving Billy's life. Billy is so thankful for his dogs, for their love and loyalty. He knows he will never be able to repay them for what they did for him, but he will never forget it or them.

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