In the novel Old Yeller, how is the relationship between Travis and Arliss?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Old Yeller, Travis thinks Arliss is a pesky little brother. Eventually, though, Arliss's open heart and innocent embrace of life's joys helps Travis to see how to accept what their father calls the good in life when he tells Travis not to close off the good in life that is with him becuase of worry for the bad that might come along.

Travis loves and protects Arliss but is exasperated with him because he is so much younger and a boy, while Travis fancies himself a man now. Travis teases Arliss for his silly playful ways and tries to send away the old yeller dog that came into the farm yard. Arliss clings to the old yeller dag and wins. The dog stays.

Travis had suffered the pain of the loss of his first dog, Bell, and wanted nothing to do with anything that could hurt that way again, especially if the anything was another dog. Although there is some antagonism between Travis and Arliss because they see things so differently now that Travis has the pain of deep loss, Travis would do anything for Arliss. Indeed, Travis and Yeller save Arliss from a bear attack, a fact that helps endear Yeller to Travis's heart and prove the place in Travis's heart that Arliss holds.