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LIT 4930: Florida Lit and Culture


Class 16:The Yearling

    The Yearling Read chapters 10-18

    DUE: Post 8 – group B, Response Group A

Class Objectives:

    Analyze chapters 10-18 of the novel
    Map the fictional place


Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Chapter 10

    On page 111, Jody recalls that one of his father’s rules is not to take more of anything than can be eaten or kept. Using specific examples from the novel, what are some of the other “rules” that Penny teaches Jody? How do these rules demonstrate a particular kind of relationship with the environment?

    Chapter 11

    In Chapter 11, Jody tells his mother, “‘I jest want something all my own. Something to foller me and be mine . . . .I want something with dependence to it’” (116). Why does Jody long for this? What does The Yearling convey about dependence (or interdependence)?

    Grandma Hutto asks Jody, “‘How many is two times seven’” and Penny interjects that Jody’s access to school-based education has been limited. Grandma Hutto then replies that “‘lots of things is more important than book-learnin’” (138). What can living in the Florida scrub teach Jody that he cannot learn from “book-learning”? What kinds of education are valued in the novel and by whom?

    Describe the similarities and differences between Grandma Hutto and Ma Baxter. What does each woman seem to value, or privilege?

    In Chapter 11, we learn that Grandma Hutto and Oliver are not “kin-folks” (144). How does this revelation further our understanding of relationships between families living in the Florida scrub?

    Chapter 12

    During Oliver’s fight with Lem Forrester over Twink Weatherby, Penny asks, “‘Whose fight is it? Who done what to who?’” (155). Why is this important? How do “fights”—either between men or between animals—function in the novel? How are the laws of culture (as depicted in The Yearling) and the laws of nature similar (or dissimilar)?

    Chapter 14-15

    Comment on the depiction of human-environment interrelationships in the novel: “There was intrusion back and forth, as well. The Baxters went into the scrub for flesh of deer and hide of wild-cat. And the predatory animals and the hungry varmints came into the clearing when they could. The clearing was ringed around with hunger. It was a fortress in the scrub” (169).

    In chapter 14, Mill-wheel Forrester tells Jody to “‘spare [his] thanks’” because he would even help a dog that was bitten by a snake (179). Were you surprised, then, that Buck Forrester offers to stay and help with the crops while Penny recovers from his rattlesnake bite in chapter 15? What does this gesture convey about neighbor relationships in the novel?

    Doc Wilson tells Ma Baxter that “‘nothing in the world don’t ever come quite free’” when discussing the fawn that was left behind after shooting the doe to save Penny. And yet, Doc Wilson does not demand payment for treating Penny, beyond asking for some syrup when it is ready (198-99). What drives the economy of the Florida scrub and how does Doc Wilson’s description of exchange help to convey it?

    In chapter 15, Jody finally gets something that belongs to him, that is his very own. Discuss belongingness in the novel. What does it mean to belong? What is owned and what cannot be owned?

    Chapter 16

    How do “words beg[in] fights and words [end] them” in the novel (223)? Using specific examples from this chapter or previous chapters, how are words used in The Yearling? Which kinds of words are privileged over others and what is the significance of this privileging?

    Chapter 17

    Throughout the novel, there is an emphasis on growth, or the process of maturation. For instance, when Penny tells Jody that “‘A yearling ain’t got a buck’s strength’” (235), he is talking about physical strength. What other kinds of “strengths” seem to contribute to the maturation process in The Yearling?

    Directly before discovering the two male bears fighting, the narrator describes how Jody’s fawn “halted and lifted its nostrils into the wind,” “pricked up its ears,” and “savored the air” (239). How does sensory knowledge provide meaning in this scene and/or other scenes in the novel?

    After watching the bears, Jody thinks to himself that he’s “seen a thing” (241). What does he see and why are his observations of it so significant to him?

    Fodder-wing’s death is Jody’s first experience with human death. What does Jody learn about himself from Fodder-wing’s death? How does Jody come to view death?

    After learning that Fodder-wing thought that Jody should name his fawn “Flag,” the narrator describes how “the fawn came to him and it seemed to him that it knew the name, and had perhaps always known it” (249). Why is naming important in the novel?

    Chapter 18

    Jody thinks that he sees Fodder-wing’s Spaniard in the woods and is disappointed to discover that it was only an illusion: “It would be better not to have known; to have gone away, believing” (260). Why might Jody feel this way? What is the relationship between reality and illusion in the novel?

    Jody thinks of Fodder-wing as only “gone away with the raccoons” (263). How does Jody’s sense of Fodder-wing’s relationship to nature inform his evolving relationship to nature?


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