Twelve years old when the story begins, Rob is a boy with a good sense of responsibility. When the story ends, Rob is thirteen and a man, the male head of the household. Rob narrates the story, and in addition to relating his thoughts, he tells of his interactions with several people who influence him.
Members of Rob's family have the most influence on him. Haven Peck, his father, kills pigs for a living. A man of common sense, hard work, and honesty, he cannot read or write but is determined that Rob will be able to do both well. The story focuses on the relationship between father and son. Rob characterizes his mother when he says, "I could smell her goodness." She works hard in the home and in the garden and never says a harsh word about anyone. Her oldest sister, Aunt Carrie, lives with the Peck family. She has never married and always seems a bit shocked by the community gossip she so enjoys. She claims an aunt's prerogative and slips Rob ten cents to use for fun when he goes to the Rutland Fair.
The Pecks' neighbors also affect Rob's development as he approaches manhood. Mr. Tanner, the nearest neighboring farmer, gives Rob a little pig, Pinky, in return for helping his prize cow have her calf. He also takes Rob to the Rutland Fair so he can show Pinky in the children's division. The Pecks consider Mr. Tanner to be a good neighbor and a good friend. Other minor characters introduced during various escapades include the widow Bascom and her hired man, the close family friend Rob calls Aunt Matty, and Mr. and Mrs. Hillman, all of whom contribute to Rob's growing up.
Animals are of special importance on a farm, and Rob names and befriends...
(The entire section is 686 words.)