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William Rawls teaches a number of life lessons in Where the Red Fern Grows, including those directly related to Billy’s relationship with his dogs. Before he even has the dogs, he determines the importance of innovation, working hard toward a goal, and how to save his money so that he can acquire something that he desires. Once he is able to purchase the dogs, with his grandfather’s help, he acquires the knowledge of how to care for, respect, and love living things. In addition, he learns the reciprocal lesson when his dogs defend him against bullies, and are tenacious in their coon hunting against great odds. He learns the meaning of mutual love and respect.
He learns the ultimate life lesson when he has to let the dogs go. When Old Dan is killed, and Little Ann passes, he has to mourn them and feel the loss of losing a loved one. But, he also learns to move on as he prepares to move to town with his family to start the next step in their life.
In the book Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy learned many lessons from his coons.
When Billy first gets the pups he has to take care of them. He learns responsibility.
He has to teach them how to be a coon dog and to hunt. He learns how to be a teacher and patience.
When the dogs capture a coon they will not give-up until they have the coon. Billy learns endurance and not to give-up until a job is done.
When Billy's dogs get injured by the coons he learns how to doctor them.
The dogs demonstrate devotion to one another in every situation. Even as pups Little Ann had protected Old Dan. Billy learned about devotion and caring.
After Billy's dogs die, he learns about love and loss. He grieves their death.
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