In "Where the Red Fern Grows", how does Billy react to the fate of Rubin Pritchard?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Billy is at first shocked and bewildered at the fate of Rubin Pritchard.  He says,

"I felt bad about the death of Rubin.  I didn't feel like hunting and kept having bad dreams.  I couldn't forget the way he had looked at me just before he died.  I moped and wandered around in a daze.  I wanted to do something but didn't know what it was".

Billy tells his mother how he feels, and she says that she feels the same way, but that there doesn't seem to be anything they can do, since the Pritchards have made it clear that "they don't like to have outsiders interfere".  Billy tells his mother that he has been thinking about how dangerous it is to carry an axe while hunting, and has been wondering if it would be better to carry a gun, but his mother does not take kindly at all to that suggestion.  At a loss as to what he can do to make things better, Billy takes a bouquet of artificial flowers his sisters have made and sneaks over to the Pritchards' cemetery, where he puts the blooms on Rubin's grave.  He hides when Rubin's mother appears, and observes as she gently rearranges the flowers and weeps.  Billy's act of honoring Rubin's memory helps reconcile the conflicting feelings within him.  He says,

"I felt much better after paying my respects to Rubin.  Everything looked brighter, and I didn't have that funny feeling any more" (Chapter XIII).

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Where the Red Fern Grows

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