In Where the Red Fern Grows, Papa tells Billy, "Your mother and I don't intend to live in these hills all our lives. It's no place to raise a family." Why does Papa say this? What idea is he trying to get across to Billy?

When Papa tells Billy, "Your mother and I don't intend to live in these hills all our lives. It's no place to raise a family" in Where the Red Fern Grows, he means that although their life is simple and happy, the children are missing out on a world of experiences that only exist in a more populated society. He hopes to one day move the family closer to town for this reason.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Billy returns from his trip to town, he is dismayed by his experience. He tells his father that the townspeople had stared at him and made fun of him and that he never wants to live there. Papa replies that he doesn't think the people were "poking fun" at Billy and that he doesn't want his son to get the wrong impression of townspeople.

He continues to explain his position, telling Billy that one day, he may have to live in town, because he and Billy's mother "don't intend to live in these hills all our lives." Billy and his family are fairly removed from society and from many aspects of civilization. They live out in the mountains, and there isn't even a school because of the minimal population there. Billy's parents realize that by living so remotely, their children lack a basic knowledge of how the world really works beyond their quaint and simple lifestyle. They can't attend school, don't know what soda tastes like, and have never heard of a fire escape. Mama particularly is eager to help her children gain a better understanding of the world and to be able to receive an education that goes far beyond simply learning to read and write.

Papa wants Billy to see that although their mountain life is simple and happy, there is an entire world of experiences that he is missing out on; he hopes that one day, the family can move to town so that the children have a more complete understanding of their world.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial