The Yearling, 10

“Hey, Ma, Flag’ll soon be a yearlin’. Won’t he be purty, Ma, with leetle ol’ horns? Won’t his horns be purty?”

“He’d not look purty to me did he have a crown on. And angel’s wings.”

He followed her to cajole her. She sat down to look over the dried cow-peas in the pan. He rubbed his nose over the down of her cheek. He liked the furry feel of it.

“Ma, you smell like a roastin’ ear. A roastin’ ear in the sun.”

“Oh git along. I been mixin’ cornbread.”

“‘Tain’t that. Listen, Ma, you don’t keer do Flag have horns or no. Do you?”

“Hit’ll be that much more to butt and bother.”

He did not press the point. Flag was in increasing disgrace, at best. He had learned to slip free from the halter about his neck. When it was tightened so that he could not get out of it, he used the same tactics that a calf used against restraint. He strained against it until his eyes bulged and his breathing choked, and to save his perverse life, it was necessary to release him. Then when he was free, he raised havoc. There was no holding him in the shed. He would have razed it to the ground. He was wild and impudent. He was allowed in the house only when Jody was on hand to keep up with him. But the closed door seemed to make him possessed to enter. If it was not barred, he butted it open. He watched his chance and slipped in to cause some minor damage whenever Ma Baxter’s back was turned.

♣ ♣ ♣

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
I don’t want to add more excerpts. But I must say that an incident narrated in the rest of the tale, which I read this year, shocked me. I could easily write a long, detailed entry for my blog on Alice Miller, but child abuse is a subject that does not interest the readers of WDH.

A couple of days ago I caught my father telling his grandson that instead of watching TV for hours he should be reading the beautiful literature for young people, and he mentioned the beauty of a Julius Verne novel. But he’s a hypocrite, since his grandson does exactly what my father does: watching TV for hours everyday and, even in his late eighties, still going to the theater to watch Hollywood filth.

With classics like The Yearling I find it almost a sacrilege that adults are allowing their kids to watch TV. Although I only read The Yearling as an adult, I must say that as a child Wyeth’s illustrations provided some homely zest and a sense of trust in life and in one’s own parents that is difficult to transmit in words.

If anyone actually read the whole novel and is curious about why the culmination of the story surprised me so much, let me know and we can discuss it here.

Spoilers for those who haven’t read it!

Published in: on July 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I read it as a boy and was deeply moved by its contrast between the unspeakable beauty of youth and the Necessities of adult life. The feeling of loss that Jody felt was mine as well. How could life go on after he killed what he loved so much? But it does somehow, but the Emptiness takes the place of the Beauty that was there before. The Beauty is shy from that point forward, only appearing for a moment now and then.

    I’m reminded of another similar young adult novel I read in the Condensed Reader’s Digest. Can’t remember the title but it was quite good. In this one, a boy has to kill the mule he loves. The initiation theme was more clear in this one since the boy was only known as boy. His father felt children should name themselves and the boy had never settled on a name. After he killed the mule, which had fallen on the ice and broken its leg, he came in out of the storm and told his father that he had found his name.

    • Thanks for sharing.

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