In Gipson's novel "Old Yeller" Travis is a 14-year-old boy who has been left in charge by his father. The family lives in Salt Lick, Texas in the late 1860's. Mr. Coates must leave his wife, two boys and daughter to go on a cattle drive. As he leaves he tells his oldest son, Travis, that he needs to be the man of the house. The story is about Travis' struggle to mature and become a good role model for his siblings, but still be a obedient son. His interactions with Yeller are part of this maturing process.