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The Yearling

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No novel better epitomizes the love between a child and a pet than The Yearling. Young Jody adopts an orphaned fawn he calls Flag and makes it a part of his family and his best friend. But life in the Florida backwoods is harsh, and so, as his family fights off wolves, bears, and even alligators, and faces failure in their tenuous subsistence farming, Jody must finally part with his dear animal friend. There has been a film and even a musical based on this moving story, a fine work of great American literature.
--back cover

513 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1938

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About the author

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

152 books419 followers
People know American writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings for her novel The Yearling (1938).

This author lived in rural Florida with rural themes and settings. Her best known work, The Yearling, about a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later made into a movie of the same title, The Yearling. The book was written long before the concept of young-adult fiction, but is now commonly included in teen-reading lists.

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5 stars
11,298 (40%)
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3 stars
5,546 (19%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,305 reviews
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,256 reviews451 followers
February 6, 2017
I have read this book twice before, once as a child, and again as a young adult. It was presented as the MOD choice on the group "On the Southern Literary Trail" by Tom, so I took the opportunity to start the New Year with a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that I already knew would be a wonderful read. I had forgotten just how great it really was.

The setting is Florida in the 1870's, before concrete and condos and retirees and tourists. Before Disney World and Universal and Gatorland. This was a Florida of wild, lush beauty, wild game aplenty to supplement meager farming, but also bears and wolves and rattlesnakes, and violent storms. The Florida Crackers that Rawlings knew so well were proud, hard-working people that only asked for help from neighbors when there was no other choice, and gave help in turn when it was needed.

The description of this book would have you believe that it's the story of a young boy who adopts a fawn, and while this is true, the real story is the relationship between a boy and his father. It's about the struggle to become a man in a hard world, the difficulty of doing the right thing, or even knowing what the right thing is at times. As Penny tells his son Jody, "Boy, life goes back on you. Life knocks a man down and he gets up and it knocks him down agin. What's he to do then? What's he to do when he gits knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on."

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings has written a book about the people she lived among and loved, the values they held dear, and the Florida scrub country that she described so beautifully. The dialect in the book is so real it reads like poetry. I found myself reading parts of it aloud just to hear it spoken.

Yes, this book is a classic in more ways than one. The nature writing is unsurpassed, the story is timeless, the characters will stay in your heart forever. We all need this book for the message. Stand up to life, do what needs to be done, but remember to remain a decent human being.
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,769 reviews168 followers
November 7, 2012
I absolutely hated this book. I'm not even sure that "hate" describes how I feel.

This is based purely on how I felt reading it and not the writing quality, though that was really rather poor as well.

I suppose that most people were supposed to have this reaction:


and then natter on about how amazing this book is. How the "coming of age" story is so poignant and beautiful. How they wept and then fainted from the overwhelming feelings that they had for Jody. And, of course, how they recommended this book to everyone they knew.

But I hated it.

Really the only looks I had as I read were:






My thoughts were that it would have been a FAR better book if what I wanted to happen would have happened. I wanted little Flag to show up on page 1 (instead of 130) and have rabies, thus infecting Jody and his parents. They die and Flag dies on page 2. The end. That would be a five star version of this book.


It probably didn't help that we were supposed to focus on Jody's nonexistent virtues. Like responsibility and respect. He didn't have either of those. He slacked off, never did his chores and when he did, most likely under pain of death. He treated his parents like crap, except when he wanted something. He is an immature brat. And he is lauded for that?

Then he

Yeah, he's a great character who really matured.

I did not cry once over this book. Except perhaps for the welling tears of self-pity and pent-up ire at having to read this book.

Also, this is a 400+ page book. This could easily have been edited to less than 100. It would not affect the story in any way except to improve it. I honestly shudder to think what this looked like before editing...

So if someone asked me if they should read this book:


Profile Image for Loretta.
306 reviews157 followers
September 6, 2019
Finally! A Pulitzer Prize Winner that I actually enjoyed! Five big stars! A boy's coming of age story filled with great love! Very sad in parts but very spiritual and warm hearted as well. Highly recommended. 🤗
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,737 reviews1,469 followers
January 14, 2020
First time around, I gave this Pulitzer winning classic first published in 1938 four stars. Now, second time around, I again think it is worth four stars. It’s gripping, and it’s moving. It is equally good for adults and children. It’s worthy of being classified as a classic—it speakers to readers generation after generation. It is a well told story with prose that shines.

It is about a fawn that becomes a yearling and about a child leaving childhood behind.

The story is set in the 1870s in the scrubland of Florida near the small town Volusia on the eastern bank of the St. Johns River, about three miles south of Lake George. The area is remote and sparsely inhabited, by people that is, but densely inhabited by a multitude of animals—bears and coons and muskrats, snakes, pumas and wild cats, wild vermin and beasts. The prose is descriptive; it gives you a feel for the land and its denizens. The lush vegetation is vividly described.

The story is about a boy and his fawn and the hardscrabble life of his family. They are farmers, barely surviving. To feed a pet is simply beyond their means. The father is loving. The mother is bitter—six children have died in infancy. Jody, her youngest son, is alive, but she cannot relate to him. The characters are portrayed so you come to understand why they behave as they do.

The nearest neighbors are the Forresters—elderly parents with seven sons addicted to drink, fiddling, dancing, “frolicking”, hunting and tussling with friends and foes alike. One of the sons, Fodder-wing, is disabled but has a great affinity for animals. He and the Baxter boy, Jody, become friends.

An important element of this book is character portrayal. I particularly like that the characters cannot be easily categorized as either good or bad. Each has good qualities and bad and life puts up stumbling blocks that must by some means be overcome.

The tale is about interactions between people and between people and animals. It is about growing up and about some not so nice realities of life. Do not expect a sweet, rose-tinted fairy tale.

Readers are given dialogues that reflect perfectly the persons speaking--another reason to like the prose. There is humor to be found in what is said, and the lyrics of invented songs make you laugh.

Did I mention that the story is exciting? There is a storm, the hunting of a ferocious bear, a fire and more. These are mere subplots to the central story which is guaranteed to rip you apart.

The ending is perfect.

So, yes, I do like this book a lot!

Tom Stechschulte narrates the audiobook very well. He intones the characters so they sound as they should, given who they are and the circumstances which arise. The Forresters speak in a hillbilly fashion, but this is not hard to understand. Four stars for the audiobook narration.
Profile Image for Erika.
75 reviews129 followers
February 25, 2016
I started this classic novel with only a vague idea of what it was about. I knew the book was supposed to be sad and I knew “the yearling” was a deer. But that was it.
As it turns out, I was partly wrong about both things.
Yes, the novel is sad, extremely so, but its overriding feature is an almost ecstatic love of animals, especially wild ones. And yes, the yearling is a deer but more importantly, it’s also the story’s protagonist; a 12-year old boy caught right in that moment between an innocent childhood and a realization of the pain the world can dole out.
The Yearling was not originally marketed for children, but over the years it’s sort of morphed into a young adult novel in many people’s minds. I think that’s a mistake. For one thing it’s too long and often slow. For another, the themes are tricky and much more subtle than they appear at first.
Jody Baxter and his parents live in the Florida wilderness around 1870. Jody’s father, Penny, is wise and kind and showers him with attention and Jody thrives on a life of hard, honest work and playing in the woods.
Jody and Penny love animals, but seem to always be killing them. Early in the novel, Old Slewfoot, a massive bear, eats a pig the Baxters were counting on for winter and they go out after him, almost losing their best hound when Slewfoot fights them all off.
This starts the thematic arc of the book, which is about the slow, inevitable approach of death and the fact that humans and wild animals can’t really coexist.
Death comes closer when Penny is bitten by a rattlesnake and barely survives. In a desperate attempt to save his life, he kills a doe and places her liver on the bite hoping to suck out the poison. Jody is terrified. While Penny is recovering, Jody remembers that dear had a fawn. He insists on finding it and taking it home to raise like a puppy. The fawn, who he names Flag, is intertwined with Penny’s near-death and Jody worships it like he does his dad.
There is a destructive flood, a plague that hits the animals, attacks from starving wolves, the death of a beloved neighbor, a showdown with Old Slewfoot, and finally the sad events that shape Jody into the man he will become—someone who sees the world clearly, and is honest, and wise like his father.
In between all that death there are also scenes of incredible and surreal beauty, always around wild animals. In one of my favorite sections, Penny and Jody watch from the bushes as a dozen cranes dance together with the moon shining above. Their movements are intimate, unknowable, and the moment is described so well I went down a half-hour rabbit hole Googling dancing cranes.
In another scene, a thin, crippled, young wolf sneaks into the Baxter’s yard at night to play with the family’s dog. The wolf pup is lame because Penny had shot it earlier for trying to eat his livestock. They watch quietly.
“Pore thing,” Penny said. “Hurt and lonesome. Come visiting its nighest kin to pick a play.”
Perhaps the sibilance of their whispers reached beyond the closed window or their scent drifted to the wolf’s nose. Soundlessly, it turned, left the dogs and clambered with difficultly over the fence and was gone into the night.
Jody asked, “Will it do harm here?”
Penny stretched out his feet to the embers on the hearth. “I mis-doubt it’s in shape to catch itself a square meal. I’d not dream of bothering it. A bear’ll finish it, or a panther. Leave it live out the rest of its life.”
They squatted together by the hearth, caught up in the sadness and the strangeness. It was a harsh thing, even for a wolf, to be so alone that it must turn to the yard of its enemy for companionship. Jody laid his arm across Flag.

The Yearling is a classic that belongs on the list of great American novels. Yet it also has its share of problems. As I mentioned earlier, the book is very slow in sections and is often overly sentimental. Yet there is a life to this novel, a lush, urgent, joyous life that for me, made it well worth my time.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,543 followers
September 21, 2021

Maybe the shine of reading this as a kid wore off after nearly half a century, but I wasn’t captivated by this Pulitzer-winning classic. Jody lives in the sticks in central Florida in the late 19th century with his Ma Ory and his Pa, Ezra ��Penny” Baxter. They live off the land by scrap farming and hunting. Their nearest neighbors, the Forresters prefer drinking and carousing. When he is 10 or so, Jody adopts a young fawn which becomes his companion. The book talks of the year that Jody spends with Flag, the fawn, during which they are hit by a hurricane, beset by a pack of hungry wolves, and are in a epic battle with a huge, old wounded bear.

My votable list of Pulitzer winners which I have read (only have the 40s, 50s, and 60s to finish!):
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book485 followers
July 12, 2017
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.
Profile Image for C. Janelle.
1,441 reviews37 followers
February 25, 2015
Every night for three weeks, my nine-year-old and I would snuggle together under a blanket, tea cups balanced on our laps. I would read aloud in what my spouse says was a pretty good Southern accent and she would read along silently over my shoulder.

After we'd finished the book and blown our noses and she'd talked a bit, I realized that she and I got different messages from the story. She loved it for the outdoors and the animals---both the cute baby animals raised by Fodder-Wing and Jody and the animals who threatened to kill them, directly or indirectly. When she cried, she cried because there was no clear right path for Jody to have followed. Should he have taken the fawn in or should he have left it? Neither seemed like a good plan in the end.

When I cried, I cried because as a parent, there's no clear right path for raising my children. Penny, like many (most?) parents, tried to protect his son from the ills of his own childhood. He kept Jody from hard work and hunger, shielding him always from the ugly ways of people, a buffer between his son and reality. This spared Jody pain when he was young, but it left him unprepared for the life of an adult. The boy couldn't read or write well or light a fire on his own or carry home a carcass after a hunt. Adulthood comes, though, whether we're prepared for it or not. And so when I cried, it was in part for that remembered pain of crossing the threshold between childhood and adulthood and realizing there really was no magic to it after all, but it was even more for the constant and anticipated pain of knowing that no matter what I do for my children, they're going to have to suffer in order to grow. I can't get them out of that any more than I can get myself out of my own growing pains.

Even if I could keep them from feeling pain or sadness or fear as children, that would only leave them as adults with a sense of entitlement toward anything good in their lives and a sense of unfairness for any discomfort. They'd be as whiny as Jody was before his coming-of-age except they'd be trapped in it, perpetual children.

My take-home message from this book is that the way to help my children grow to be capable adults is to get them a wild animal to raise so it can betray them and so open their eyes to the betrayals they can expect from life every step of the way. Or since I live in the suburbs, maybe I can accomplish something similar by allowing them to make their own mistakes and feel their own embarrassment and fear and pain and just be there for them when it happens instead of trying to keep them from feeling it in the first place.

I think getting a fawn might be easier.
Profile Image for David Eppenstein.
687 reviews164 followers
October 17, 2021
This is an American classic that has been on many high school reading lists for decades. Unfortunately it was never on any of mine and I'm nearly as old as this book is now. I guess better late than never is still a valid position to take so when I saw it in the bookstore I purchased it. After sitting on my TBR shelf for some time I picked it up and started reading. Maybe I should mention that I did see the movie when I was probably younger than the protagonist of this coming of age novel. I didn't appreciate the movie's story because I was so young but today my appreciation is probably greater than it might have been had I read it in high school.

Since this novel is nearly 80 years old and has been read by several generations I doubt there is much need to rehash the plot beyond saying that it deals with a boy about 12 or 13 living in central Florida with his parents in the last quarter of the 19th century. Their life is hard but simple and free of serious want at most times. However when survival depends on a good harvest and catching wild game life can become harsh very quickly. The details of the plot are not particularly stirring but here is where the reader will be surprised by the author's talent. The characters and their lives will engage you as will the beauty of their lives and their surroundings. The author use of language and descriptive detail will transport the reader to another time and place that is alien to anything in our lives today. I can only compare this book to another classic I read some months ago that was also a coming of age novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. That story concerned a young girl about the same age as Jody in this book but it was an urban setting as opposed to Jody's rural. Both books have very simple messages but it was the skill of the authors that has made both books timeless in their telling. I will never know if I would have appreciated this book in my teens as much as I do in my 70's but it is worth reading whatever age the reader might be. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Lesle.
192 reviews68 followers
February 18, 2022
The Yearling in 1938 brought Rawling's the Pulitzer Prize and worldwide recognition as a great talent., she wrote about what she knew, poor life but close to nature. I believe it is well written, but some of the dialect I had to reread to understand.

Penny Baxter chose to leave behind the city to live on an isolated island with his family. Along with that, comes the daily struggle of surviving. Penny has the will to keep getting back up once knocked down by all the incidences that take place on his farm. This has to be handled in a strong and calm way, this is what he tries to teach Jody.
Jody is not as tuned in as his father is, otherwise he would have realized that one cannot tame a wild animal. He should have seen that nothing good could come of it. The loss of his only friend made his desire even more to have Flag as a pet.

The book is about a year (yearling) of the adventures of life on the farm and the lessons one has to learn along the way to go from a young boy to being a man.

It does make one notice how much our pets are part of our family and a loss is very hard to take.
Profile Image for Martin.
318 reviews6 followers
May 1, 2013
Sometimes you read a book and it is just words on a page, sometimes it becomes a story. And sometimes, when you're very lucky the book becomes so real you feel transported right into the pages. That was my experience here.

I loved Jody and Penny's relationship, how overwhelming Penny's love is for his son, how much he wants for Jody to learn and grow. And how he watches Jody enjoying life.

The Forresters were entertaining and heartbreaking at the same time. There is much to learn from the characters in this book if your heart is open.

I treasured every moment I got to spend with Penny, Ora and Jody, seeing the world through their eyes.

Very good book and now Andrew Peterson, a song writer, has a song about it. It is called "The Ballad of Jody Baxter". All young boys should read this book. It is on the same level as "Where the Red Fern Grows".
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,077 reviews489 followers
November 9, 2021

A boy and his deer (Or was it a doe? Can't remember now!)

Loved the 1946 movie version with Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman Jr. The book was good, but I fell in love with Gregory Peck. (His stellar role in To Kill a Mockingbird just sealed the deal for me. I loved his rare smile - so candid and boyish!)

I'm planning on watching a whole stack of old favourites: The Yearling, Far From the Madding Crowd, Of Mice and Men, to name a few.... These are movies that were better than - or at least improved on the story of - the original book. The scenery in the movies usually had me enthralled and itching to pack my bags and check it out for myself!
Profile Image for Tom Mathews.
662 reviews
February 7, 2017
The Yearling is a fine coming-of-age novel that I have somehow managed to avoid reading until know. Fortunately, thanks to the fine folks at the On the Southern Literary Trail Goodreads group, I finally had the opportunity to read and discuss it with others who appreciate it.

Uninformed readers such as I will automatically assume that the yearling in question is the fawn prominently displayed on the cover but that is not really correct. It soon becomes apparent that the fawn is but a minor character in the drama that plays out in the scrub lands of back country Florida. The real yearling is Jody, a young boy growing up in isolation with only his hard-working parents for company. Despite his father's attempts to shelter Jody from the tribulations of life in the country, Jody finds that growing up is not as fun and easy as he would like. Without revealing too many spoilers, it is a wonderful description of the rocky road to manhood.

One final comment: The audiorecording of this novel was magnificently narrated by Tom Stechschulte. It is a great book to listen to and Tom is the perfect narrator.
Profile Image for Debbie Zapata.
1,787 reviews36 followers
October 24, 2020
Oct 23, noon-fifteen ~~ Review asap. Must think just a bit first.

Oct 23, 9pm ~~ My GR friend Werner and I traded comments recently about Reader's Digest Condensed Books. While neither of us would read anything in such a format these days, we both remembered certain books we had enjoyed in our younger days (for me before I understood what the term 'condensed' meant!). His book was Edna Ferber's Giant, and mine was this one, The Yearling.

Of course that exchange made me realize just how much time had passed since the last time I read The Yearling (55 years or so) and I bounded off to Thriftbooks to order myself a used copy. You know how it is when you order a book: sometimes you put it on your shelf and there it sits for who knows how long before you open it up. Well, not this time, by golly. I began reading The Yearling just a few days after its arrival, almost a record for me!

I knew the basic story and what would eventually happen, but I couldn't remember any real details. And of course adult eyes saw so much more than my less-than-ten-years=old eyes saw back in the day. So I can safely say this was less of a re-read than I had expected it to be. I felt I was reading it for the first time.

We have here the story of eleven year old Jody, living in Florida not too long after the Civil War. His family consists of Penny (Pa) and Ory (Ma), as well as a few farm animals and three working dogs. Jody feels a great need for a pet: something he can cuddle and play with and call his own. He lives a lonely, hard life, and feels it would be so much more fun if he had something to talk to, a friend who would be with him all the time.

But Ma doesn't believe in feeding extra critters, and the family is so close to barely surviving anyway that the whole idea of a pet is simply not at all practical. But one day a rattlesnake sets in motion the rest of the story, which is that Jody is able to bring home an orphaned fawn and raise him for his very own. We see both the pleasures and the troubles that this brings upon the family, and the final crisis of so many in the lives of the Baxter family sent my younger self into fits of tears every time I read the book.

But isn't it strange how fifty-odd additional years of life changes a person's viewpoints? I did cry in this reading of the book, just not where i expected to. I cried over a person: a person I don't even remember from other readings. I will now forever wonder if he had been 'condensed', or if it was just the weight of the years that pushed him out of my mind since then.

All my younger self could see in the book was the relationship between Jody and his fawn. But this time I saw the severity of life for the family, how hard they worked merely to survive, and how the very existence of the fawn ultimately began to be a danger to them in ways I had never understood years ago. I suppose I am more practical and realistic these days, maybe even more selfish and hard-hearted. Or maybe, like Jody, I simply grew up a little.

One thing about this book that I remember from years ago and could still marvel at was how the author was able to re-create Florida and the family's lifestyle and make it all so real that I felt that I was right there prowling the scrub land with them; watching for tracks, listening to the noises around us and knowing what they all meant. Penny could read sign like nobody's business and I surely do admire that.

I can recognize certain types of paw prints but I can't tell how long ago they passed by or how heavy an animal is or any of the other little details that make the difference between a skilled tracker and an ignoramus. Every time I read a book featuring a character who is such a woodsman, I always spend a few days wanting to be Daniel Boone. This time is no different. I know that tomorrow when I go out to do a little yard work I will be looking for sign in the back yard. Not that I expect anything as monstrous as Ol' Slewfoot the devil bear of this story, but then again, you never can tell. After all, this is 2020: the year of What The Heck Else Is Going To Happen?!

Profile Image for Sharon Barrow Wilfong.
1,117 reviews3,943 followers
January 12, 2019
I was not expecting to enjoy this book as I did. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings simply was not an author I had a remote interest in. I went to the library and happened to see some books for sale for a dime. There was one containing the letters of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Max Perkins. I had no idea who Max Perkins was and I did not care for Rawlings.

But there is something about a thick hardcover selling for a dime that I find irresistible. So I bought it and eventually read it.

I am glad I did, because by the time I finished the 628 page tome, I was enamored with both Max Perkins and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; hence this review of my latest finished read, The Yearling.

On the one hand, this book is about the day to day survival of families living off of the land in Central Florida in the 1870s and has a lot in common with Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. They both show the joy and hardship of trying to survive by one's own exertion on an often stubborn and unyielding land. The only difference would be location and time period (well, the House Books started in the 1860s; I suppose you could say they overlap). And while the House books take place over several years, The Yearling happens inside one year. Wilder's family farmed on the plains of the mid west. The Baxter family farmed in woods and near swamps and bayous in the humid heat of Florida. However, many of the animals, bears, wolves, panthers, were the same; although the Baxters also had alligators to hunt. (Interesting caveat: Laura and Almanzo Wilder lived briefly in DeFuniak Springs, near my home town on the Florida Panhandle. The thick humidity drove them away.)

We see the Baxter family as they plant, hunt, get sick, endure hurricanes, and plague and we suffer with them. Reading The Yearling is truly a vicarious experience.

Like the Little House series, which are from the viewpoint of a child, Laura, the limited narrator in The Yearling is Jodi, a boy on the edge of puberty. The overall theme of the book is about Jody leaving childhood and entering into adulthood.

The Ingalls family may have had Native Americans to contend with, the Baxters had the Forresters, a wild, lawless, backwoods family that could be good friends or horrible enemies, often depending on how much they had to drink.

While the Little House books had their charm and poignancy and will always be a childhood classic, and also a classic for adults like me, The Yearling also has its place for sheer power in writing.

I found the descriptions of animals killing each other, killing the Baxter's cattle and the men killing bears and panthers to be disturbing, not because I think it was wrong, they had to do what they had to, I'm just glad we don't have to do that anymore.

And, of course, there is the Yearling. Jody's father had to kill the mother to treat a Rattle Snake bite. Something about the deer's liver drawing out the poison or so they believed back then. Anyway, that left an orphaned fawn. Jody takes the fawn home and it becomes his dearest friend, which is sad in its own way, because it reveals the isolation and loneliness a child can experience when he has no siblings or neighbors as companions.

Jody's mother is no Caroline Ingalls. Caroline had a quiet dignity, self-contained, and almost aristocratic, ladylike bearing. Ory or Ma Baxter, is as tough as leather. She buried five or six children. Jody is the only one to survive infancy. She's learned that it's hard to survive and all too easy to die. But she is not without her moments and every now and then her love for her husband, Penny, and Jody peek through.

The father, Penny, balances out his wife's pragmatic, no-nonsense, philosophy with compassion and wisdom.

While the fawn is mostly peripheral to the story, as the book progresses it creeps closer to the center of the story until he comes crashing down as the climax and centrifugal force that propels Jody into manhood. It is a painful life lesson and one that few people would want to learn today and I'm glad I can live a life of ease and grocery stores.

While some may consider this a boy's novel; I would almost consider it too dark for boys. I would not have read it to my son when he was Jody's age. He cried at the end of "Where the Red Fern Grows."

I'm grateful those hard lessons are not required anymore in my first world existence.

In conclusion? A fine, powerful novel, superbly written and fully deserving of the Pulitzer Peace Prize that it won in 1939.
Profile Image for Christian Engler.
261 reviews17 followers
September 21, 2013
In past reviews, people have speculated that if The Yearling were to have been published in today's times, would it still have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. For me, I would have to say that that would be a resounding yes. I say so because the novel captures, with vivid simplicity, a bygone American era via the stark usage of the literaty resources available to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the time, quite simply, the values, environment and language which surrounded her. Being the excellent and astute writer that she was, she transposed those raw yet natural elements to her characters, specificially the gruff yet loving Baxter clan.

In a time where people are adrift due to the constant onslaught of materialism, celebrity, technology, vanity, money, you name it, the Baxter clan are a refreshing anomaly, for all of the above was not really available to them, and if it was, it was to a very limited degree. But because of that humbling deprivation, they as a family and individualistically speaking, were interiorily richer in so many different capacities. Their lessons came from the law of the land, the primal yet earthy philosophy of kill or be killed. But it was also a deep almost religious respect of the land and its animals that could definitely shape the thinking and the ever evolving twists and turns that are in abundance in The Yearling. Ezra Baxter-Jody's father-to some extent, could be considered as the Atticus Finch of the Florida backwoods, for he respects the codes that govern the wilderness and for the wild animals who occupy it. And thus, he kills only when necessary; he imbues that code of ethics in Jody who is of a tremendously malleable age, especially by the Forrester family and their sometimes less-than-stellar behavior.

The novel is about being a boy, about growing up and about sacrifice, and when Jody, a lone child, adopts a fawn whom he names Flag, the emptiness of being a lone child abates; the fawn, a cherished pet, is a co-experiencer with Jody of the highs and lows of living in the scrub country, and he is there for Jody's various milestones, his inching along toward the tower of manhood. But sometimes just doing the day-to-day obligations of life is simply not enough. Sometimes one has to go beyond what is expected, and the latter half of the book illustrates that sacrifice entails pain, large or small, for real love sometimes does hurt. The Yearling is pungent, pure, simple, true and very very giving, absolutely worthy of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize.
Profile Image for Rob Warner.
228 reviews3 followers
October 21, 2011
A Civil War-era coming of age novel that's a spiritual cousin to Where the Red Fern Grows, but with a broader story and a deeper dive into life's challenges. Reading this book reminds you how deeply people understood the consequences of choice, as sloth translated brutally into starvation. Indeed, the need to work for one's supper every day, planning for both the moment and the future, contrasts starkly with our present-day welfare state that, for some, rewards indolence.

One other thing that jumps out from this tale is that the family, though living without TV, smartphones, cars, running water, or any of the other niceties we demand as a baseline for happiness, are just as happy as we are. They find plenty of joys, despite their hardships, and in the process sober us and our propensity to storm about under-whipped lattes and 404s. The tasks they faced daily would cave many of us, yet they take them in stride and relish in their accomplishments.

The protagonist, Jody, lets us into his thoughts and the conundrums he must un-puzzle as he becomes a man. The dialect, though distracting at times, helps form the context of the life he leads.
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,768 reviews332 followers
August 3, 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. This made me think that 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 illustrated 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.
Profile Image for erigibbi.
807 reviews661 followers
January 5, 2022
[mi ero dimenticata di mettere che l’avevo finito 😂 sono incerta sul voto, tra 3.5 e 4; devo lasciarlo sedimentare]

[alla fine opto per 3.5]

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings raggiunse il successo con il romanzo Il cucciolo, vincendo il Premio Pulitzer nel 1938.

La trama di questo romanzo è molto semplice: ci troviamo in Florida, a fine Ottocento. Il protagonista, Jody, recupera un cucciolo di capriolo nel bosco – orfano (sì, leggendo scopriremo che è senza la madre e perché) – e decide di farne il proprio animale domestico aiutandolo a sopravvivere prima, a crescere sano e robusto poi, amandolo più che mai. I due stringono un rapporto quasi simbiotico nonostante il capriolo non si faccia addomesticare del tutto, la sua indole selvatica infatti ha spesso e volentieri il sopravvento; ma rimane un rapporto più complicato rispetto a quello che si potrebbe instaurare con un cane.

Ritorna ancora una volta la tematica della terra. Da quando ho cominciato a leggere i libri vincitori del Pulitzer in ordine cronologico ho riscontrato questo fil rouge che unisce tutti questi romanzi. La terra che si ama, di cui ci si prende cura, da cui si dipende, la natura – colei che comanda davvero, le difficoltà che una vita agricola comporta.

Il cucciolo è un libro ricco, quasi straripante direi, di flora e fauna. Al giorno d’oggi si tende forse a romanticizzare una vita in mezzo ai campi, lontano da tutto e tutti, dimenticandosi dei lati più duri e faticosi (anche dolorosi) che tale vita porta con sé. Ecco, Il cucciolo è uno di quei libri che sì, ti fa (ri)scoprire la bellezza e il fascino della natura, ma ne sottolinea però anche i lati più oscuri.

Devo ammettere che per le prime cinquanta pagine ho fatto un po’ fatica ad entrare nella storia per colpa dello stile dell’autrice; spesso però ho avuto la sensazione che fosse più per colpa della traduzione, ma è solo una sensazione e una supposizione, non avendo letto l’originale non posso esserne sicura.

Passate queste prime pagine mi sono ambientata bene e alla fine si è rivelato un libro che riesce a farsi leggere velocemente.

Pensavo di essere preparata. Alcune persone mi avevano detto che era una storia che mi avrebbe fatta piangere. (Non che sia una novità, tendenzialmente potrei piangere anche leggendo la lista della spesa). E diciamo che ero preparata alle lacrime, ero preparata alla morte. Il problema è che non ero preparata a quel tipo di morte. Oh quello non me l’aspettavo proprio. Ed è stato straziante. È stata la morte peggiore che potesse capitare; la motivazione, e il modo, no, quello non me l’aspettavo e a quello non ero pronta.

Avrei comunque preferito che Flag, il capriolo, venisse introdotto prima; avrei preferito che venisse mostrata di più la relazione tra lui e Jody; avrei preferito un Jody meno (molto meno) immaturo (sì, ok, è un ragazzino, ma a volte è too much); avrei preferito qualcosa di più sull’altra famiglia presente, i Forrester, che vengono presentati come degli orchi quando ok, a volte si comportano sopra le righe, ma non mi sono sembrati delle così brutte persone. Insomma, avrei preferito che tante cose fossero andate in modo diverso.

A me Il cucciolo è piaciuto, ma non così tanto come pensavo. Lo vedo più adatto a un libro in versione illustrata per bambini e ragazzi. Se l’avessi letta da bambina e/o adolescente forse l’avrei amato di più.

Era questo, la morte. La morte era u silenzio che non dà risposta.
Profile Image for Mary Slowik.
Author 1 book19 followers
July 17, 2015
A classic I had never been assigned to read or really had recommended, this 1938 novel was suggested to me by a librarian and I read it chapter by chapter over a number of weeks.

Taking place on "Baxter's Island" in post-Civil War Florida, this follows the bond formed between a boy, Jody Baxter, and a fawn he rescues from the wild and attempts to domesticate. I found it surprisingly touching, with some beautiful passages depicting the ineffable link we may feel between ourselves and nature, especially in the opening and concluding chapters.

A great deal of the dialect used is impenetrably Southern, but this just proved something of an interesting challenge rather than anything too formidable. However, at times I found myself clueless as to what a character had actually just said. These rare moments became comic instead of frustrating, such as when Jody's mother scolds his incorrect grammar with flaws in her own speech.

It's a classic for a reason. Complete and earthy and challenging, I'd recommend it for... just about anyone who hasn't read it yet.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,903 reviews20 followers
January 11, 2019
This is a young adult Pulitzer Prize winner. I loved this book. I know readers seem to have a love hate relationship with this one, but I loved it. I loved the setting, the language, the characters, the life and the way the relationships were depicted.

Survival is such a strong theme in this book. It has it's tentacles in everything....decisions, choices, relationships and thoughts. I like that the characters were put in situations where they had to make the hard choices even when it was the last thing they would want to do. So 5 stars.
Profile Image for Peggy.
164 reviews
August 13, 2020
I wish I could give The Yearling 10 🌟s

The Yearling reads like a fairytale, at the same time contains true life lessons! I love to lose myself in amazing characters, places and times so captivating and exciting. You’ll need tissues to catch your tears from laughter and to catch your streaming tears of sadness.

Jody -n- Flag shall remain in my hear always!! ❤️
Profile Image for Gaye.
16 reviews8 followers
June 11, 2011
What language. It was dense and thick and like poetry. The story, The Yearling, is of a young boy named Jody and his life in the hardscrabble backwoods of northern Florida in the late 1800's. Jody and his parents live a solitary life and one where frivolous things don't belong. Yet all Jody wants is something that belongs just to him; a pet. When his father is struck by a rattlesnake in the deep woods, a doe is shot and killed for her healing organs, leaving behind a tiny fawn. This fawn now becomes Jody's pet.

Oh I loved this story. It was the recipient of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize and was written for children or young adults. I would be hard pressed to put this into the hands of a child today, though middle school patient kids who love long and carefully crafted deep stories might be candidates. The pacing is slower than most of today's novels and the author infuses so many details about hunting and farming that one would think she lived the same lifestyle herself (she did not!)The dialect was also thick and I found myself having to read some phrases over and over to 'figger' them out in my mind!! I loved the phrase, "don't go gittin' faintified on me!" The descriptions of the woods were full of words like loblolly pine, saw grass, red bay, sweet gum, and palmetto. I still don't know what a ti-ti or a blackjack pine looks like but they sure are fun to say. I looked up words like milch, sorties, feist, crony, brogans, boles, and cooter and they meant nothing like what they mean now! I remember - I was supposed to be speaking "southern"!

Lots of homeschool kids read this book and there are lots of study guides on the internet, yet I also saw reviews by many teenagers who just didn't like this book because they were forced to read it. Once again it supports my thoughts (what I tried to tell so many parents at Barnes and Noble) just because your child CAN read at that level doesn't mean that they SHOULD. Having some life experience behind us gives us a frame of reference, more meaning. This book requires some patience to uncover the gem that it is.

This book had me reading and enjoying it for a day or too after book group and I keep looking for a chance to say, "He's sure got a low eye for a high fence."
Profile Image for Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ....
1,882 reviews46 followers
November 7, 2019
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939. She told a story for children that is highly enjoyable for adults. Rawlings told stories about the poor people of her time. They were people whom she understood. They are close to nature, hunters and fishers, living off the land. The dialect is true to the time and place and sometimes hard for this modern day woman from the west to understand. So, I bought the audiobook and listened while I read and it was such a beautiful and enriching experience. I fell in love with Jody and his family.

This book is about a young boy named Jody who lives an isolated life with his family. They live off the land and struggle to survive. Jody's father, Penny, knows the land and its inhabitants well. He is determined, strong and calm. He teaches Jody how to take care of the family. I like that Penny is determined. No matter what comes his way he continues to remain calm and focused. He takes the hits and gets up to face it again. Jody is not quite the same, and I liked this too. Because he is a child and shows the scattered, self-centered innocence of childhood. He is sweet and kind and good-hearted. But he is still a child and Rawlings allowed him to be a child rather than writing him with too many adult traits.

Jody finds a fawn which he makes into a pet. Naively he doesn't understand that as the fawn grows into a buck it will be more wild and will cause problems for the farm. He thinks that if he loves the animal that it will be tame. As an adult reader I knew what Jody didn't, and still I hoped for a different outcome than the one I foresaw.

I am a child of the 1970s and yet I never saw the movie or read the book prior to now. I can only imagine my grief over certain events in this book at that time. As it was, I knew what was coming and yet I found myself with tears stinging my eyes at the climax of this story.

The book is sweet and sad. It is also smart, funny, peaceful and joyful. I loved it.
Profile Image for Michele.
617 reviews168 followers
April 23, 2009
If you have a speck of warm feeling for animals and the loving human-animal bond, do not read this book. Run far, far away from it. I'm still traumatized by it 35 years later.
Profile Image for Christopher.
42 reviews
November 15, 2014
The Yearling is not a book for those who get bored easily. The book is slow-moving, taking its time to vividly describe the Florida wild. Although the description is indeed colorful and paints the picture well, there's a fine line to walk between enough description, and too much. Sadly, The Yearling doesn't quite walk this line.
The book is the tale of young Jody Baxter, a twelve year old boy living in the wild of Florida. When his father shoots a doe, Jody convinces him to let him take the young faun into his care. Jody names the faun Flag, and a bond develops between the two. However, Jody's mother accidentally shoots Flag, fatally wounding him. Convinced his mother did it on purpose, Jody runs away in anger. After he finally returns, his father tells him that he is now a man, and Jody realizes that Flag wasn't the only thing that died.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings certainly knows how to write good, fully-fledged characters. When Penny is bitten, the readers afraid for him. When Jody gets to keep the faun, the readers are happy for him. The book convincingly takes one on a journey through this young boy's life as he grows up and faces the reality of death and loss. Although the ending did seem a bit rushed, perhaps losing some of the potential emotion, it was a decent end. The issue at the heart of this book, however, is not the characters.
The issue with this book is two-fold. First, is the over-descriptiveness of the prose. Second, the resulting slow-moving plot.
A book is a package, created to either entertain, or to share a theme. Both are valid options, and some books combine the two. Imagine that one ordered a fragile glass plate from Amazon. The package was shipped, but when one opens it, they find the plate broken. Upon examination, it's discovered that there was no packaging to cushion the plate. Imagine now, that the order shipped, but arrived without a box. The plate was wrapped in styrofoam. Still, the plate would probably be broken, and the customer disappointed. Imagine once more that the order arrived in a nice, brown box. Packaging was present within in an abundance, but there was no plate. Still the customer would be disappointed. But why?
The customer would be disappointed because he paid for a full package. He paid for the plate, and for the plate's shipping. A book works much the same way. The best books are packages with everything present: the box, the packaging, and the item itself. All of it has to be there, each depending on the next for their weight and significance. Prose is the box, packaging is the plot and characters, and the item is the theme. Too much prose with too little plot, characters, and theme ends in a dull book. Too little plot or character, even if the theme and prose is fantastic, is still a dull book. Everything has to be there in it's proper proportions to deliver a really good book.
Sadly, The Yearling has a box that's a bit too big, and ends up eliminating the point of the packaging and the item itself. The prose is too flowery, and too overbearing. Rawlings is good at description but only so much is needed per book. A writer has to use color carefully. The focus shouldn't be on topping Van Gogh, the focus should be on providing enough color to illuminate the scene, but not so much that the scene is drowned out in favor of the color. The Yearling, makes this mistake. Rawlings tries to be Van Gogh, lavishly taking her time belaboring sprawling trees and hanging moss, without giving us the reasons why we should care about the trees and the moss.
The characters, plot, and theme were interesting, but they were lost in the whirlpool of description, and more description, and even more description. Using simple words, the primary colors if you will, to paint a picture is fantastic. There's no need to give us an art class though. Big, long, extravagant words should be used sparingly. As a wise man once said, "Never use a big word where a diminutive one will do."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Judy.
3,096 reviews54 followers
February 2, 2020
Childhood memories:
I've avoided reading this book for decades. I watched the movie once when I was quite young and was horrified. Bambi was sad, but this was devastating.

Recently, an older friend gave me her first-edition copy of the book, knowing that I'd value it, but not realizing the depth of my feelings about the story. She, however, convinced me that I should give it a try since I enjoyed Rawling's Cross Creek.

2019 review
From 0 stars to 5 stars. Obviously, my thinking has changed over the years. And, it's highly probable that I steeled myself for the inevitable so it wouldn't be as painful. As a child, I would have identified with the deer, whereas now I understand the adults' point of view and I can sympathize with Jody.

While this is often described as a story of a boy and his fawn, it actually depicts a boy's coming-of age, the relationship of a boy and his father, and life in the wilds of Florida in the 1870s. At first, I was impatient with all of the description, mainly because I can't visualize the plants and birds that Rawlings mentions. Ideally, this book would be illustrated so the reader can get some idea of the setting. I often turn to the internet for answers, but if I'd done that here, it would have taken far too long to read each page.

How closely did the 1946 film follow the novel? Rawlings writes so much about setting, backstory, and inner thoughts, that I'd expect quite a bit of difference, starting with the casting. Jane Wyman and Gregory Peck don't fit my image of Ma and Pa Baxter. And the nudity? I suspect that was omitted. When re-watching the movie, I'll pay close attention to the setting. Apparently it was filmed in the location that Rawlings said she had in mind while she was writing.

I suspect that these quotes reflect Rawlings' own values.

p 18, Pa Baxter's thoughts about his land:
The clearing was peculiarly his own. The wild animals seemed less predatory to him than people he had known. The forays of bear and wolf and wild-cat and panther on stock were understandable, which was more than he could say of human cruelties.

p 19, a little geological history:
A scarcity of water was the only draw-back to the location. ... The sink-hole was a phenomenon common to the Florida limestone regions. ... The sinkhole included with Penny Baxter's land contained, unfortunately, no flowing spring. But a pure filtered water seeped day and night through the high banks and formed a pool at the bottom.

p 34, about hunting:
"Son, I've helt back my shot and contented myself with watching' many a times when creators was feedin' harmless and innocent. It goes agin me to crack down at such a time. Or when creators is matin'. Now and agin when it was git meat or the Baxters go hungry, I've done what I've no likin' to do. And don't you grow up like the Forresters, killin' meat you got no use for, for the fun of it.

p 201, a peek at Jody's thoughts:
It was good to become old and see the sights and hear the sounds that men saw and heard, like Buck [Forrester] and his father. That was why he liked to lie flat on his belly on the floor, or on the earth before the camp-fire, while men talked. They had seen marvels, and the older they were, the more marvels they had seen.

That last quote got me thinking about how times have changed. Kids used to listen to their elders and while doing so they heard stories about not only experiences but about their own families and local landmarks. My guess is that most kids ignore the 'oldsters,' and prefer their electronic gadgets to sitting at the knees of their grandparents. That's sad for the grandparents and the kids are missing out on the opportunity to learn first-hand about an earlier generation.
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