The author uses personification throughout chapter 17 to give human-like qualities to the weather. Personification is a literary device that gives human qualities to inanimate objects.
While Billy is competing for the gold cup, a storm starts to roll in. Below are excerpts of personification from chapter 17:
A low moaning sound could be heard in the tops of the tall sycamores.
Strong gusts of wind growled and moaned through the tops of the tall timber.
I couldn't hear anything above the roar of the blizzard.
Straight into the face of the storm she led us.
I could hear the roar of the blizzard back in the thick timber of the bottoms.
Through the use of personification, the author makes the reader feel as if the weather is a character in the novel. The weather is acting against Billy and could cause him to lose not only the gold cup, but his beloved dogs. While Billy is eager to continue on through the storm, he begins to grow worried when he can no longer hear his dogs. The others want to turn back, without the dogs. Billy convinces them to move on through the treacherous storm. While they eventually find Little Ann, Old Dan is nowhere in sight. They end up finding both dogs, but Billy's grandfather is now lost. The storm has created havoc among the men and becomes a large part of the story as a result.