How does Jody's sense of responsibility help him to deal with the fawn's interference with his family's survival in The Yearling?
Jody understands with his head why he must kill his beloved fawn Flag, but he cannot accept what he must do with his heart. When Penny reasons with him, he can offer no explanation why he has not done what he has been asked to do other than that he simply cannot. The gentle conversation between Penny and Jody goes like this,
"Jody, you know I've done all I could to keep your leetle deer for you."
"You know we depend on our crops to live."
"Then why don't you do what's got to be done?"
Filled with rage and hurt and hatred when Flag finally dies, Jody runs away, fantasizing about all the things he will say so that his parents will understand the depths of his feeling of betrayal, but when it comes right down to it, Jody knows they are right. As he is drawn back to Baxter's Island, he admits,
"Flag had destroyed the better part of the year's living."
Jody, like his father, loves the land, and understands the sacrifices that must be made for them to survive on it; he is completely aware of the dire consequences that would occur if the yearling fawn is not put down. Even though the memory of Flag will forever be with him, and he does not believe "he should ever again love anything, man or woman or his own child, as he had loved the yearling," he has become a man, and will be able to do whatever it takes for him and his family to get by; Jody has learned to be guided by his head, even if it is at the expense of his heart (Chapter 32).
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