The Yearling

by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Hardcover, 1985



Local notes

Fic Raw



Charles Scribner's Sons (1985), 400 pages. $24.95.


A young boy living in the Florida backwoods is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he has lovingly raised as a pet.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

400 p.; 7.35 inches


0684184613 / 9780684184616



User reviews

LibraryThing member lauralkeet
The Yearling is a coming-of-age story about a boy, Jody, living in the Florida wilderness during the late 1800s. Over a year's time, Jody grows from a 12-year-old focused mostly on recreation, to a contributing family member working alongside his father to provide for his family. Jody's family lives off their crops, game hunted in the forest, and trades made in a nearby village. It's a tough life full of back-breaking labor.

At Jody's side during most of the year is Flag, a fawn adopted after being found orphaned. As an only child, Jody longs for companionship, and his parents long resisted allowing him to adopt wild animals as pets. For some reason, in this case, they relented. Flag is a devoted pet, often at Jody's side, but as he grows it becomes more and more difficult to keep him on their farm.

This book is well-written -- it won the Pulitzer Prize after all -- and the very descriptive language brought the landscape to life. However, I tired of the graphic hunting scenes, and I was never emotionally invested in Jody and his family. I was hoping for a more compelling read and was disappointed.
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LibraryThing member janetaileen
I live on the site of Marjorie's old summer cottage on Lake Ontario. She lived here before she moved to Florida. What good karma! We even saved her old bathtub when we renovated. Loved the book. Love watching the movie with my grandchildren.
LibraryThing member janeajones
A beautifully written book that evokes an unspoiled Florida landscape. It unsentimentally records the harsh life of Florida Crackers (NOT a derogatory term) early in the 20th century and reveals the deep love of a father and his son.
LibraryThing member rmckeown
While straightening out my shelves, I came across a book I read when I was in about 7th grade. Thanks to Sister Stella Marie, who alone encouraged me to read books I enjoyed even if they verged on adult titles. The book I recently pulled from the shelf was The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The dust jacket is long gone, and it has several stains on the cover, but I immediately became overcome with memories and emotions from those days.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was born August 8, 1896 in Washington, D.C. She lived in rural Florida and wrote of rural themes and settings. Her most beloved novel was The Yearling. She lived in numerous places around the country working as a journalist. By 1928, they settled in rural Florida after buying a 72-acre farm in Frontier Florida in the Ocala National Forest, southeast of Gainesville. The Rawlings Society quoted Marjorie, when she described the wilds of her new home. She wrote, "This was not the Gold coast of Florida. It was a primitive section off the beaten path, where men hunted and fished and worked small groves and farms for a meager living. And the country was beautiful, with its mysterious swamps, its palms, its great live oaks, dripping gray Spanish moss, its deer and bear and raccoons and panthers and reptiles." Marjorie died December 14, 1953 in St. Augustine, Florida.

Back in 7th grade, I never knew any of this, as I sat immersed in the delightful story of Jody, his father Penny, and Ma Baxter as they desperately tried to scratch out a meager existence. They competed for food and a safe place to raise offspring with raccoons, foxes, bears, deer, wolves, coyotes, rattle snakes, and the Florida panther, which was one of the first species added to the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1973. Today, there are less than 100 Florida panthers left in the wild.

I noticed two curious things about the book I so loved then – which may have been the first novel I read twice. First, is the dialect spoken by the settlers in the early 19th century. Although a bit strange at first, I quickly adapted to the local tongue; however, this time I had a dictionary of American Slang close to hand all the while I read. The second was the wonderfully astute cracker barrel philosophy of Penny.

Rawlings wrote, “Jody’s mother had accepted her youngest with something of detachment, as though she had given all she had of love and care and interest to those other [children she lost]. But Penny’s bowels yearned over his son. He gave him something more than his paternity. He found that the child stood wide-eyed and breathless before the miracle of bird and creature, of flower and tree, of wind and rain, and sun and moon, as he had always stood. And if, on a soft day in April, the boy had prowled away on his boy’s business, he could understand the thing that had drawn him. He understood, too, its briefness. // His wife’s bulk stirred and she made a sound in her sleep. He would act on any such occasion, he knew, as a bulwark for the boy against the mother’s sharpness. The whip-poor-will flew farther into the forest and took up his lament again, sweet with distance. The moonlight moved beyond the focus of the bedroom window. // ‘Leave him kick up his heels,’ he thought, ‘and run away. Leave him build his flutter-mills. The day’ll come, he’ll not even care to’” (20-21).

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling has withstood the hurricane of time for me. I found it as warm, sad, joyous, and heart-breaking as I did back in the late ‘50s. If you have never read it, or if you have, travel back in time and relive your own childhood innocence and wonder at the beauty of nature. 5 stars

--Jim, 7/30/15
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LibraryThing member lpardey
This was one of the nicest books I have read this year. I wonder how I missed it all these years. A tale of a young boy growing up on an isolated farm in Florida. Life was tough, his folks had a really difficult time but the sense of love that flows through the story is wonderful. Even better is the growing awareness of the balance between reality and dreams. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fine writing and a story without villians.… (more)
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
The Yearling is tragic. It's the story of Jody Baxter, a twelve year old boy growing up in Florida in the late 1800s. Jody's family is poor. While living remotely is a blessing for privacy it is hard on employment and sustainable nourishment. The Baxters depend on their farm animals for food in the leaner months. It's this food supply that drives the story of The Yearling. First, there is the emergence of Old Slewfoot, a bigger than life grizzly bear that manages to kill the family's prized sow. This sow, Betsy, would have been responsible for offspring that could have sustained the family through the upcoming long winter months. Then, later in the story, there is the dilemma of Flag. Through a series of events young Jody has come to adopt a fawn, a pet he has dearly wanted. As this fawn grows it creates conflict within the family. He begins to eat their hard earned corn supply and the corn, like Betsy's offspring, was supposed to feed the Baxter family throughout the colder months. Ma Baxter is the iron will of the family. She sees the trouble the family is in are in if Flag continues to eat them out of house and home. When she takes matters into her own hands Jody childishly runs away. His return is one of adult understanding. This is ultimately a story of emerging maturity, of new knowledge and acceptance of sacrifice.… (more)
LibraryThing member DebbieHorton
One of my favorite books of all time. I read this when I was 10 year old and I still remember it and the tender feeling it gave me after 40 years.
LibraryThing member booksandwine
Essentially the Yearling is about a boy, Jody Baxter and his pet deer. But at the heart of this book is the relationship of Jody Baxter and his father, Penny Baxter. The Baxters are an impoverished family who live in the Florida scrub. Rawlings descriptions of the solitude and wilderness in which the Baxters live are lovely, one would almost want to leave civilization to fall asleep hearing the call of the whip-poor-will after reading The Yearling. The Yearling symbolizes the transition from childhood to manhood, in Jody's case. Jody must make hard decisions, and eventually grow up. The final chapter, where Penny Baxter is speaking to Jody is so heartfelt and well-written I about teared up.… (more)
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
I read this book in July of 1949. On July 30 of that year I said: "Reading in The Yearling. It is downright painful, it just tears me apart. Tears well in my eyes so easily, and the death of Fodderwing made me cry more profusel than I have in months. There is something about the story --its poignant expression of love for animals, maybe--that just gets me. On July 31 I said: "Finished The Yearling and I thought it tooo rendingto be really enjoyed."… (more)
LibraryThing member agnesmack
I'd never given much thought to The Yearling, but apparently I thought it was some kind of young adult novel. I remember first noticing it on my list of Pulitzer winners and being a bit surprised. However, not only did it win the Pulitzer - it deserved it.

The general story is that of a boy named Jody living in the Florida backwoods. He works the land with his father and goes on adventuresome hunting trips, but has no people his own age to spend time with. After years of begging for a pet, his mother finally agrees to let him take a young doe in. Then your heart gets broken about a thousand times.

The writing could easily have been cheesy or overly dramatic, but it wasn't. It was crisp, exact and made excellent use of dialectical dialouge, which I'm not usually a fan of. I was really captured by this book and immensely enjoyed reading it.

That said, the sh*t with the yearling was a little weird, seriously. Like, the thing lived in his house? With him? It was a deer!! Deer don't live in houses!
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
A good book for anyone who likes animals. I loved reading this in seventh grade.
LibraryThing member bookworm12
I avoided this one for years because I always thought it would be just like reading another painful version of Old Yeller. It may be a good story, but I’m a softy when it comes to animals and I didn’t want it to break my heart.

I’m so glad I finally picked it up. It’s not that it doesn’t have its sad parts, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the ultimate coming-of-age story. Jody, sweet young boy, grows up with his mother and father on isolated farm in Florida shortly after the Civil War. They struggle to survive harsh weather, the attacks of an old bear named Slewfoot and their wild neighbors who are both helpful and a bit dangerous.

Jody’s father, Penny Baxter, is the essence of a good man. He is kind and loving, but he also works hard to care for his family. Ma (Ory) is a cold woman and at first this is jarring. She seems so bitter and harsh and it’s hard to reconcile that with Penny’s tender nature. But you quickly realize that Ory has been through innumerable hardship and we learn that she has lost many children. We don’t know exactly how many or how they died, but we know Jody is the only child that survived. She’s given up on her dreams and realized that her life will never be made easier. This is her lot in life and she had to become hard to survive. It’s not easy to love a character like that, but I can understand how she has become that way.

It’s interesting that the yearling doesn’t actually show up until almost halfway through the book. This gives the reader a chance to connect with all of the other characters, which is crucial for the story to work.

The Yearling is really Jody’s story. He is such an innocent child at the beginning, but they live in a ruthless world and there’s very little room for playfulness in the adult life of a pioneer. People were completely dependant on the land. If there was a drastic change in the weather there was nothing they could do. Their food source came from what they could farm or shoot. We take so much for granted now. The sheer fact that we can go to a grocery store any time or pick up dinner at a restaurant makes it hard to even comprehend that kind of lifestyle. It’s a powerful story and an interesting glimpse into the life of a pioneer.

“Death was a silence that gave back no answer.”
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LibraryThing member the4otts
Austin's favorite story when he was 8 years old.
LibraryThing member BonnieJune54
This worked well as an audio book. I also have a Scribner edition with lovely illustrations by Edward Shenton. Harsh realities and the joy of life beautifully blended together.
LibraryThing member isomdm
Liked it more than I thought. Easy to read.
LibraryThing member finalcut
This is the first non kids (Dr. Seuss, golden) book I ever read (I was apx 5). I barely remember it and should probably read it again.
LibraryThing member andrewfahler
very good sad ending
LibraryThing member Unkletom
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.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
Jody becomes close to the fawn of a deer that was killed to draw out the poison from a snake bite incurred by his father. The story, set in the northeastern corner of Florida, is a classic. It is written in dialect of a simpler time when the story was set. It would make a great read-aloud story for upper elementary students. This was a re-read for me.… (more)
LibraryThing member FriendsLibraryFL
A Pulitzer Prize-winning classic originally published over 50 years ago, Rawling's timeless story of backwoods Florida and the tender relationship of a young boy and his tame fawn continues to delight and enthrall readers.
LibraryThing member AuntieClio
Rawlings deserved her Pulitzer for this wonderful book. Her writing is so evocative of the time and place in 1870s Florida where the Baxter family lives off the land, striving to make their farm provide the sustenance they require. There are the usual heartbreaking tragedies, including a near fatal snake bite, a flood which wipes nearly everything out and the nearest neighbors who don't view life in the same light as the Baxters.

Told over the span of a year, from the time son Jody Baxter adopts a young deer whose mother is killed in service to saving father Penny Baxter's life. The cycles of the season, the farm and life are caught as Jody, and his fawn, Flag grow together. Jody learns big lessons about life and death, as he mourns the changes that must be acknowledged in order to continue growing.

What a fantastic story!
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LibraryThing member AprilBrown
What ages would I recommend it too? – Twelve and up.

Length? – Several days read.

Characters? – Memorable, several characters.

Setting? – Florida early 1900's?

Written approximately? – 1938.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Yes. There were a few inconsistencies.

Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? Yes. As people move further from the time this novel is written about, several words don't make sense, and many children readers today would not understand how he could not have to go to school, or a few of the other unique things in this story.

Notes for the reader: It was really odd, reading a story in which both males are called by female names. Penny and Jody as male, just pulls you right out of the story. And the one main female was a bit cardboard, hardly developed at all. She was not friendly either.

The character Jody is said to be 12. He acts more like an 8 year old of that time.
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LibraryThing member RealLifeReading
The Yearling was quite a surprise. I started out wondering how this became a Pulitzer Prize winner back in 1939, but it began to grow on me. It is a marvellous coming-of-age tale set in Florida. A time when bears and panthers roamed, and your nearest neighbours were 4 miles away. It was vivid and very absorbing. I admired Penny's appreciation for nature and wildlife and was continuously amazed at how life was led in those times. But I wondered if, were The Yearling to be published today, would it be a Pulitzer Prize winner?… (more)
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Jody Baxter lives in a remote part of Florida with his mother and father. The story largely focuses on the close relationship between the boy and his father, Penny. They face a variety of trials and tribulations together, facing both the harshness of nature, the harshness of wild animals, and the harshness of man. Jody longs for a pet of his own, and his Penny reluctantly allows him to adopt an orphaned fawn. During the course of the coming year, Jody grows to love the fawn as much as he ever loved anything. But as the fawn grows, it causes more and more trouble for the family as well.
The last few pages really make the book.
(A deserving classic, though for my taste, I did grow weary at times of the long chapters about going hunting. There is a lot of hunting in this book.)
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LibraryThing member bookscantgetenough
I wasted my time reading this book. The only reason why I finished was because I had to do a summer reading assignment on it.

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