Jody enjoys his time with Flag, the fawn, for a variety of reasons.
First, like many children, Jody has desired a pet for an extended period of time. However, based on his family’s economic status, this is simply not a realistic option. As his mother is quick to remind him, the family only has enough food for themselves. She views a pet as an unnecessary drain on resources.
Second, Jody has an inherent sense of loneliness and isolation. As the only surviving child, not only is Jody physically alone, but the deaths of her previous six children have left his mother emotionally distant as well. His father is as caring and compassionate as the average male of the time period is expected to be. The fawn represents a companion and an emotional outlet.
Third, on an abstract level, raising the fawn represents Jody’s journey into adulthood; something every adolescent is eager to begin. It is one of the first things in his life that he is completely and independently in charge of. Additionally, unlike his chores and other household responsibilities which he approaches with general apathy, raising the fawn is something that he has committed himself to wholeheartedly.