My Side of the Mountain

by Jean George

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How does Sam decide where to move his home in the woods?

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Chapter 5 of My Side of the Mountain opens with Sam acknowledging the need for shelter in the Catskill forests. He discovers a large hemlock tree that appears to be rotting in the center and decides to make that his home. One of the first reasons that Sam gives for selecting a tree of that size is that he wishes for privacy. He says,

I wanted a house that could not be seen. People would want to take me back where I belonged if they found me.

After studying the tree for a bit, Sam realizes that it can be hollowed out to provide him with a cozy retreat that would not only protect him from the elements but also create the privacy he desires.

However, he is so new to braving the outdoors that the work of creating a home is much harder than he expected.

I just never planned right. I had the beginnings of a home, but not a bite to eat, and I had worked so hard that I could hardly move forward to find that bite.

Despite his initial exhaustion and hunger, the tree clearly becomes home. As he says,

Any normal red-blooded American boy wants to live in a tree house and trap his own food. They just don't do it, that's all.

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