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The Yearling (World's Best Reading) by…

The Yearling (World's Best Reading) (original 1938; edition 1993)

by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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3,080512,628 (4.02)181
Title:The Yearling (World's Best Reading)
Authors:Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Info:Reader's Digest Association (1993), Hardcover, 362 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1938)

  1. 00
    The Sundowners by Jon Cleary (BonnieJune54)
    BonnieJune54: Both novels have boys coming of age in a vividly described rural setting of another era. In both cases Mom, Dad and son are somewhat isolated from others. While life is harsh, joy , love and laughter are present.

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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Jody Baxter lives in a remote part of Florida with his mother and father. The story largely focuses on the close relationship between the boy and his father, Penny. They face a variety of trials and tribulations together, facing both the harshness of nature, the harshness of wild animals, and the harshness of man. Jody longs for a pet of his own, and his Penny reluctantly allows him to adopt an orphaned fawn. During the course of the coming year, Jody grows to love the fawn as much as he ever loved anything. But as the fawn grows, it causes more and more trouble for the family as well.
The last few pages really make the book.
(A deserving classic, though for my taste, I did grow weary at times of the long chapters about going hunting. There is a lot of hunting in this book.) ( )
  fingerpost | Aug 28, 2018 |
Rawlings’s 1938 Pulitzer-winning novel focuses on the boy Jody, his parents Ora and Penny Baxter, their neighbors the Forresters, and their hard-scrabble lives in central Florida in about 1870.

I first heard of this classic of children’s literature when I was about 10 years old, but I never read it. I hadn’t even seen the movie. I had only a vague notion about the plot – a boy and his pet deer, “the yearling” of the title. I’m so glad that I finally read it.

Rawlings tells the tale from Jody’s perspective. He’s twelve years old when the novel opens, and still spends much of his time roaming about the woods, exercising his imagination and connecting with nature. Yes, he has chores – what farm-child doesn’t – but he frequently gets distracted in the middle of hoeing a field, following a squirrel or just getting lost in his thoughts when he takes a brief break to get a drink from a nearby stream.

His father, Penny, grew up with stern parents and had hardly any childhood, saddled with responsibility at a very young age. As a result, he is willing to work twice as hard to keep his boy a “boy” for a longer period. This is a source of disagreement between Penny and Ma, who feels that Jody is past the age for greater responsibility. He is, after all, their only child, and if they are to survive (let alone prosper) Jody must take on a greater share of the work.

When Jody and his father meet disaster while out hunting, they are forced to kill a doe with a new-born fawn. Once they are back home, Jody prevails upon his father to let him retrieve the fawn, who, Jody argues, is an orphan only because of their actions. Jody dotes on Flag and treats the animal as a brother. But as Flag grows to a yearling, his natural instincts coupled with tameness and Jody’s indulgence, lead to troubling behavior. The difficult decisions that are required show how everyone has matured and grown over the course of the novel.

I could not help but equate Flag’s “growing up” to Jody’s. Both are indulged and left free to roam and both have to endure pain and suffering as a result of growing towards adulthood. I could not help but wonder if the title was more a reference to Jody than to the fawn.

What really shines in this novel is the connection to nature. I was reminded of the many times I was in the woods with my father, and the way he taught me and my brothers about plants, animals, hunting, and fishing. I feel sorry for modern urban children who have no such connection in their lives.

I particularly loved this passage:
The cranes were dancing a cotillion as surely as it was danced at Volusia. Two stood apart, erect and white, making a strange music that was part cry and part singing. The rhythm was irregular, like the dance. The other birds were in a circle. In the heart of the circle, several moved counter-clock-wise. The musicians made their music. The dancers raised their wings and lifted their feet, first one and then the other. …. The birds were reflected in the clear marsh water. Sixteen white shadows reflected the motions. The evening breeze moved across the saw-grass. It bowed and fluttered. The water rippled. The setting sun lay rosy on the white bodies. Magic birds were dancing in a mystic marsh. The grass swayed with them, and the shallow waters, and the earth fluttered under them. The earth was dancing with the cranes, and the low sun, and the wind and sky.

Rawlings uses the vernacular dialect of the time and place, and there are some uncomfortable uses of the “n” word. It’s appropriate to the time, place, and socio-economic status of the characters, and it’s not frequent (maybe six times in the 400-page book), but it is nevertheless jarring to today’s readers.

The edition I got from the library was masterfully illustratedy by N.C. Wyeth (father of Andrew Wyeth). What a joy it was to examine these paintings. I looked at them and looked at them over and over as I was reading. And nearly two weeks after finishing the book, I'm still looking at them ... reluctant to return the book to the library. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jul 25, 2018 |
Jody is a young boy who lives with his parents in the early 1900 Florida scrub. He longs for a pet that is exclusively his. His dad, Penny is amenable to the idea but his mom, Ora is ademently against it feeling that they have a hard enough time feeding and caring for themselves in the harsh environment where they live.
Jody learns many lessons along the way but for me, the main story line was the relationship between father and son.

I enjoyed the novel but felt at times that it was too descriptive. ( )
  AstridG | Jul 20, 2018 |
The Yearling is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Pulitzer prize winning novel about the coming of age of Jody Baxter, the son of a backwood farming family that is trying to eke a living from a bit of high land in the Florida scrub shortly after the Civil War. The story is about a boy’s love for a fawn, a man’s love for his son, and the difficult lessons life throws in the path of a boy who lives in a world where he must become a man in order to survive.

There are many wonderful characters apart from the Baxters. The Forresters, particularly Fodder-wing, Lem and Buck, add a further understand of what it was to live in such a harsh environment and how important neighbors and family were to one another. We get a glimpse of the town life and a contrast between the two when the Baxters visit Grandma Hutto and Oliver. But the emphasis of the story is the relationship between Penny Baxter and his son Jody. Penny is a remarkable man, savvy in the ways of the wilderness, kind and humane and somewhat indulgent of his child. Ora Baxter is a harder, sterner person, with a string of lost babies in her past and a tendency toward looking a thing in the eye without turning away. She seems to hold Jody at arm’s length most of the time and never hopes for more than the scrapings she is given.

I was about 12 or 13 years old when I read The Yearling for the first time. Back in those days, I had seen the movie with Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman as well. I did not think there would be much that would be added to my memory of this story, but I was wrong. I came at this story with different eyes, of course. At that first reading, I would have been protected and spared, as Jody was, the harder side of life. I have known some sorrow and loss in my life now. I understand the lesson Jody had to learn and that Penny wanted to shelter him from, and I understand Ora in a way that I’m sure was impossible when I was so young.

I’m glad I chose to revisit this moving story. I had thought it might come across as maudlin or sentimental...a kind of more sophisticated Bambi. I need not have worried. Rawlings is not writing fantasy here, she is writing life, and life can always bear another close inspection.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I have not yet read this book.
  LynneQuan | Oct 22, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shenton, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyeth, N.C.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A column of smoke rose thin and straight from the cabin chimney. The smoke was blue where it left the red of the clay. It trailed into the blue of the April sky and was no longer blue but gray. The boy Jody watched it, speculating. The fire on the kitchen hearth was dying down. His mother was hanging up pots and pans after the noon dinner. The day was Friday. She would sweep the floor with a broom of ti-ti and after that, if he were lucky, she would scrub it with the corn shucks scrub. If she scrubbed the floor she would not miss him until he had reached the Glen. He stood a minute, balancing the hoe on his shoulder.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0020449313, Paperback)

Fighting off a pack of starving wolves, wrestling alligators in the swamp, romping with bear cubs, drawing off the venom of a giant rattlesnake bite with the heart of a fresh-killed deer--it's all in a day's work for the Baxter family of the Florida scrublands. But young Jody Baxter is not content with these electrifying escapades, or even with the cozy comfort of home with Pa and Ma. He wants a pet, a friend with whom he can share his quiet cogitations and his corn pone. Jody gets his pet, a frisky fawn he calls Flag, but that's not all. With Flag comes a year of life lessons, frolicking times, and achingly hard decisions. This powerful book is as compelling now as when it was written over 60 years ago. Read simply as a naturalist study of the Florida interior, it fascinates and entices. Add the heart-stopping adventure and heart-wrenching human elements, and this is a classic well worth its Pulitzer Prize. Earthy dialect and homespun wisdom season the story, giving it a unique and unforgettable flavor, and N.C. Wyeth's warm, soft illustrations capture an era of rough subsistence and sweet survival. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:52 -0400)

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A young boy living in the Florida backwoods is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he has lovingly raised as a pet.

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