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The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
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The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
- Sales Rank: #988031 in Books
- Published on: 1967
- Number of items: 1
- Binding: Unknown Binding
- 428 pages
Most helpful customer reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful.
One of the finest novels ever written!
By Dan T
It is not hard to see why this modern masterpiece was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1939. It was made into a classic movie starring Gregory Peck as Penny Baxter and was illustrated by the legendary N.C. Wyeth. They would not have exhausted their immense talents on a mediocre book (as some of the reviews have expressed- were they reading the same book as me?).
The story is beautifully crafted and it flows effortlessly. The homespun language is quaint and is perfect for the book (which is set in the late 1800s). The author knew the intricacies of nature in Florida and described it with exactness and beauty. There are many sections of the book that are filled with warm humor and lightheartedness. The deep closeness between the father and son is touching as well as the love between the husband and wife.
Life was a tough struggle then and it is brought out with great skill. Rawlings was a master of timing and description.
(For those high school students who were forced to read the book- read it again in ten years. I felt the same way about “To Kill A Mockingbird”. In high school I hated it. Later in life- I loved it. Maturity adds a lot to any book).
N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations are perfect for the story. His use of strong directional lighting is fabulous. I would recommend the Scribner Classic (hardcover) with his illustrations in it.
Rawlings lived in the heart of the Florida woods in the winter time and was a keen observer of nature and men. I think I learned more about hunting from this book than from any other source.
Because this book lacks sex, extreme violence, aliens or risque humor- perhaps it might seem dull to some- but it is for those very reasons that I was enthralled with it. Imagine a book filled with brilliant writing, a complex plot which is weaved by a consummate artist and many secondary adventures all which fortify the plot and without one tinge of cussing!
This book deserves ten stars not five.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful.
Life knocks a man down
By David Light
An incomparable story of growth and survival in the most difficult conditions. The Yearling, set in the scrubland of northern Florida a couple of decades after the Civil War, is the story of the Baxter family: little “Penny” Baxter, the father, a saintly figure who is wise, understanding, kind, brave, dutiful, stoic; Ory, the mother, whose essential goodness has been buried to some degree by endless toil and the death of several babies; and Jody, who is about 12 when the story begins, a good-natured sprite for whom nature is benevolent and everything is to be explored.
The Baxters live some 15 miles from the nearest town and four miles from their nearest neighbors, the Forresters, a family of massive sons who are variously good hearted and murderous drunks. In this environment, the little Baxter family scratches out its existence.
Two themes predominate: the loss of childhood innocence and Implacable Nature. The latter is depicted in a variety of ways: a legendary maurauding bear that is seemingly impossible to kill; a pack of hungry wolves several dozen strong; a flood that destroys everything in its path and leaves the plague in its wake; a terrible poisonous snake that threatens the life of one of the characters. In this unforgiving environment, Penny forges ahead at all times, hunting and farming to provide for his little brood, rarely at a loss despite the continual setbacks that afflict “Baxter’s Island,” the small territory that the family owns.
It’s not all harshness, however. Moments of beauty break through at intervals, particularly when father and son are off on a leisurely hunt. There is often a great reverence shown for flowers, trees, waterways, birds, animals, and the landscape as a whole. A lovely character named Fodder-wing (of the Forrester clan) has a whole backwoods menagerie, one that young Jody would duplicate were it not for opposition from his mother, who knows all too well the trouble that animals can cause once they have grown to maturity.
The consolation prize for Jody is Flag, a fawn that he claims after its mother has been killed. Jody loves Flag as much as any 12-year-old boy in the world today loves his dog–much more, really, since it is the only thing in the world that is exclusively his.
Over the course of a year, Jody lives through all the terrors that nature–and, sometimes, man–can inflict and prepares, unknowingly, to eventually take over Penny’s role as provider for the family. In the opening chapter, Jody has a particularly fine time off on his own, in the woods, and when it is over he cannot sleep because “a mark was on him from the day’s delight, so that all his life, when April was a thin green and the flavor of rain was on his tongue, an old wound would throb and a nostalgia would fill him for something he could not quite remember.” It is the last full day of his childhood innocence.
By the end, when events have taken their difficult course, it is Penny who must counsel Jody and explain how he wanted to spare Jody as long as he could from the rigors of adulthood. He explains, “A man’s heart aches, seein’ his young uns face the world. Knowin’ they got to git their guts tore out, the way his was tore. I wanted to spare you, long as I could. I wanted you to frolic with your yearlin’.” But, as he points out, life knocks you down, and when you get up, it knocks you down again. “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.” And Jody understands and takes up his new responsbility, to himself and to his family.
I haven’t conveyed in this short review the brilliance of the descriptions of the landscape and all it contains, the richness of the many characters who populate the book, or the excitement of the twists and turns that befall the characters–but it’s all there. I will close by saying that although The Yearling is catgorized as a sort of children’s book, it is one that adult lovers of literature would enjoy; moreover, it would be difficult to read for those under the age of 15, I would think.
Also, for those considering reading this book to their children, as I just did, keep in mind that it’s not for the squeamish. As Penny says, and as the book reveals, “You’ve seed how things goes in the world o’ men. You’ve knowed men to be low-down and mean. You’ve seed ol’ Death at his tricks. You’ve messed around with ol’ Starvation. Ever’ man wants life to be a fine thing, and a easy. ‘Tis fine, boy, powerful fine, but ’tain’t easy.”
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Good, but not my thing
By Kindle Customer
I had to read this with a student, and I’m not an animal person, nor do I like long descriptions of nature. So I would say it was interesting, and I’m glad I read it, but I wouldn’t pick it up again.
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