As with Bartram, so with Rawlings' The Yearling, I would like for each of you to
map the significant works in this class.
As you read, mark the place names and highlight these on your Google my map.
What do you learn from this exercise? Doing this may give us a different appreciation for place.
Place Names and History: Consider the idea of Fodderwing seeing a Spaniard walking in his environment. Why does
this intrigue Jody? Why does he look for the Spaniard? What does this represent?
Research the group of Minorcans that Jody and Penny actually see on their fishing trip. How did they arrive in Florida? Why are
they poor now?
Nature Writing: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings offers us some of the finest nature writing on central Florida available. Note as
you read the specificity of place, plants, animals, and the author's connection to nature. How would you characterize
her craft as a nature writer? How does this compare with Bartram? With Bellville, Cerulean, Ray or others from Wild Heart
of Florida? What are the implications of this writing for a construction of place? What are the implications
for the creation of literature? Are these similar or different?
Historical context: The Yearling is set in the years after the Civil War, which we know because Penny served in the
confederate army, and occasionally we meet a character affected by the war. What does this historical context mean for the story?
Note the gap between the time of writing (published 1938) and the context for the story. What makes this story important for
the early 20th century? (Note, also, it won the Pullitzer Prize in 1939.)
Concepts of Home: Lucy Lippard and Doreen Massey (from Cresswell) identify the homespace with gendered norms,
the site of woman's unpaid and undervalued labor as well as a
site of identity location. Lucy Lippard writes about home or "domesticity" as potentially confining,
and homeplace as experienced differently for women than for men.
How might these reflections on home help you understand some of the gendered
dynamics in The Yearling? While we will be reading more about race in a later class, postulate how race might
also affect these spaces.
The novel begins with a description of the natural environment and the characters’
relationships to it. Use specific examples from the novel to describe how each character—Jody,
Penny, and Ma Baxter—interact with Florida’s environment. What insights might we glean from these interactions?
We learn about Penny’s childhood in chapter 2: Jody’s “mind moved back down the years, touching them,
as a man touches fence-posts in his passing” (24). Discuss how the land both meets and fails to meet
his needs as a child and how Penny continues to struggle with this relationship as an adult.
How do memories influence his perspectives on land stewardship?
In chapters 3-4, Penny and Jody track “Old Slewfoot.” How do observations of nature become
clues toward locating “Old Slewfoot” in the scrub? Why are natural “clues,” or signs, important
to those who live in the Florida scrub?
In chapters 5-7 we meet the Forresters. Compare and contrast the Forresters to the Baxters.
What do we learn about the relations between neighboring families in the scrub? To what extend
do these relationships relate (or not relate) to the relationships between humans and the environment in the novel?
Why is Jody enamored with Fodder-Wing?
On page 85, Jody observes how his father constructs “a tale.” How does Penny construct a
tale and what does this tale’s construction reveal about the telling and listening to
stories in the novel?
Chapter nine describes the Baxter family’s relationship with water. Describe the
benefits and limitations of this relationship.
Back to Top of Page