Not being so fond of animals, I never considered picking up The Yearling. I wasn’t interested in a story about a deer.
But my friend recommended it to me after she read it, and she was right. I loved it. It’s much more than a story about a deer. It’s about people struggling in harsh surroundings. It addresses loss and grief, love and loyalty, and how each colorful, real character responds to those. It even has a wandering sailor character, which made me smile.
Several places in the book made tears creep out of my eyes. I still don’t like the inevitable ending, and when the most dreadful thing happened at the end, I skimmed over it because I didn’t want to know the details.
Like all good stories, it gave insight to how people think and feel and talk and respond to life. I think that’s why I liked the story so much. It seemed so real. Simple, but deep, and beautifully honest.
I laughed aloud when Jody threw a potato at a girl and his dad lectured him. His justification: “I jest hate her. She made a face at me. She’s ugly.”
“Well, son, you cain’t go thru life chunkin’ things at all the ugly women you meet.” I don’t know why that advice made me laugh.
This is from gentle, wise Mr. Baxter’s prayer when they were ready to bury Fodder-Wing, the crippled boy:
…Now you’ve done seed fit to take him where bein’ crookedy in mind or limb doesn’t matter. But Lord, hit pleasures us to think now you’ve done straightened out them legs and that pore bent back and them hands. Hit pleasures us to think on him, movin’ round as easy as ary one. And Lord, give him a few red-birds and mebbe a squirrel and a ‘coon and a ‘possum to keep him comp’ny, like he had here. All of us is somehow lonesome, and we know he’ll not be lonesome, do he have them leetle wild things around him, if it ain’t askin’ too much to put a few varmints in Heaven. Thy will be done. Amen.”
Then the Baxter dad and son went home. The dad was talking about the burial to his stern wife who’d buried five babies:
He said, “I never seed a family take a thing so hard.”
She said, “Don’t tell me them big rough somebodies took on.”
He said, “Ory, the day may come when you’ll know the human heart is allus the same. Sorrer strikes the same all over. Hit makes a different kind o’ mark in different places. Seems to me, times, hit ain’t done nothin’ to you but sharpen your tongue.”
She sat down abruptly.
She said, “Seems like bein’ hard is the only way I kin stand it.”
He left his breakfast and went to her and stroked her hair. “I know. Jest be a leetle mite easy on t’other feller.”