When Andy discovers he has an ability to communicate with an immigrant town bum, Onion John, he transfers his loyalty and resents his father's interference with the superstitions and rituals of Onion John. He is hurt by the way his father and the townspeople try to change Onion John into a "proper citizen" by building an acceptable home for him. Finally, Andy is freed from his father's dominance and the superstition of Onion John. Each of these men contributes to Andy's growing independence. The closing scene is a beautifully written description of the communication of a father and son through gesture and smiles. (p. 223)
Charlotte S. Huck and Doris Young Kuhn, in their Children's Literature in the Elementary School (copyright © 1961, 1968, by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers), second edition, Holt, 1968.