How can the protagonist in the book Big Red be described?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of descriptors for Danny, the protagonist, in Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard. Big Red can be considered a “coming of age” story in which the protagonist changes from being child-like to accepting the responsibilities for his actions as a young man.

Early in the story, Danny is a hearty, young boy living in the Wintapi forest with his father, Ross. They live hand to mouth while making a meager living off of the land and small woodland animals.  Although it is a difficult life, Danny demonstrates he is a hard worker and astute student as he learns the life skills needed to survive in the harsh environment of the forest. In addition, he demonstrates his respect for that natural environment.  

When Danny visits the home of Mr. Haggin, their wealthy landlord, the reader sees a softer side to the boy as he falls in love with Big Red, a prized Irish Setter dog. Once again, the audience sees Danny’s ability as a quick thinker as he works with the dog’s trainer, and how he becomes responsible for the show dog’s life. He is determined make Mr. Haggin and Mr. Fraley proud while he learns to care for the dog and visits environments that are foreign to him.

As the book comes to its conclusion, the reader witnesses how Danny matures and accepts responsibility for his actions. After Big Red is injured, Danny knows that he is partially responsible for allowing the dog to become entangled in a precarious situation with a bear. He shows his empathy by caring for the dog, and displays his maturity by vowing to find a way to repay the cost of the dog who will never again be a show dog.  Danny displays the attributes of being a hearty, nature-loving, empathetic, determined, responsible young man.

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