“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” (Rawls 282) This is a beloved classic about a boy who lives in the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma, the story gives an incredible adventure which revealed the whole life of Billy’s, the protagonist’s, finest hunting hounds.
The book unfolded with Billy, dreaming of having two hounds every day, he decided to save money himself in order to full fill his dream. Working hard for two whole years, Billy finally got his dogs through a journey to the town —- Tahlequah. He named his dogs Little Ann and Old Dan from a special bark and began to train them. To achieve Billy’s dream, he even won the championship of a professional competition which allows him to get an education in the future for his parents. Until one day the happiness finally ended, he went hunting like a normal day. But then he heard the scream of a mountain lion, he started to run but it was already late. Old Dan howls defiantly and fights against the giant cat with Little Ann. Eventually, the dogs defeated the mountain lion, but Old Dan was badly wounded and died in the next day. Inconsolably heart-broke and grieved, like a knife piercing his heart, God still didn’t get softhearted to this pitiful boy. Little Ann, the best friend of Old Dan’s, lost the will to live and ultimately passed away right on top of Old Dan’s grave. “I called her name. She made no movement. With the last ounce of strength in her body, she had dragged herself to the grave of Old Dan” (269). During the next following spring, the family left Ozarks with a final glimpse for Billy to say goodbye to his dogs. At the time he arrived at the grave, an unbelievable miracle appeared —- “There between the graves, a beautiful red fern had sprung up from the rich mountains soil. It was fully two feet tall and its long red leaves had reached out in rainbow arches curved over the graves of my dogs” (278).
“With a heavy heart, I turned and walked away. I knew that as long as I lived I’d never forget the the two little graves and the sacred red fern” (275)
This sorrowful but warm story captures the reader’s attention when it revealed the most powerful relationship between a boy and his dogs. There’s always an invisible bond that demonstrates the tale of unconditional love. This continues through their adventures together and it ends in the ultimate account of unconditional love. Billy never leaves his dogs behind, he chops down the biggest tree in the woods for them, and he even swears to lay down his life for them. Though, the dogs still ended up laying down their lives for him at the end of the book. Billy’s hounds seem to have more than just loyalty to their owner; they also love him deeply. This love affirmed throughout in the novel and contributes to the mournful ending. Throughout the adventure, we can see how love enables the man and man’s best friend to survive and succeed. Deep love, strong will power, and their sacrificial intimacy that the dogs and Billy illustrated the mystical qualities of the red fern. In the events that happened in the last few chapters, the author —- Wilson Rawls land a poignancy that becomes unbearable to the protagonist, as well as the reader in the penultimate chapter as Little Ann’s loyalty to Old Dan, leads to her losing the will to live. Even the title of the book, Where the Red Fern Grows, can tell and symbolize the sacred love and loyalty of the characters and also suspended interests to the reader.
In conclusion, I believe the love and loyalty power bond between the story’s protagonist, Billy, and his dogs, Little Ann and Old Dan, can touch every reader’s heart deeply with grief and happiness at the same time.