My Side of the Mountain

by Jean George

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In My Side of the Mountain, what does Sam's solution for staying warm through the winter tell readers about him?

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Sam Gribley, the main character, is good at problem solving. He has to be. He ran away from home in the city to live in a hollowed-out hemlock tree in the Catskill Mountains. He has very few resources to rely on, other than what he can find around him.

In the 13th chapter, called “In Which The Autumn Provides Food and Loneliness,” Sam sees animals beginning to harvest and collect seeds and nuts. They’re getting ready for winter, and he realizes that he should be thinking about this, too. How will he heat his tree-home during the cold months? He rigs up a fireplace, using the clay pot technique that Bando showed him, with clay from the riverbank. He starts his first fire – then sees Frightful collapse. Sam realizes that the living space was being overcome by fumes and did not have enough oxygen. He pokes ventilation holes in the tree. Frightful responds well. You see? Sam is good at problem solving, and he learns from his mistakes. Two chapters later, in “I Find Out What to Do with Hunters,” we find out that Sam is also good at making his own new clothing, too. He now wears rabbit fur underwear and deerskin outer clothing, from dead deer carcasses that hunters didn’t find. Sam is resourceful. He has found multiple ways to stay warm for the upcoming winter.

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