What is the climax of the story in My Side of the Mountain?
The climax of the novel comes when Sam is faced with a decision at the end of the novel. He must choose either to heed his father's call and join his family or run off and continue to live in isolation in the wild.
Many exciting episodes have occurred prior to this point in the novel from Sam's stressful survival conflicts (claiming Frightful; gathering wood for winter; the first big snow storm, etc.) to his social conflicts (Sam's encounters with Bando, with the young reporter and with professional journalists).
It is the social conflict, however, which is thematically central to the novel and to Sam's character.
The book develops the theme of independence versus the need for relationships...
Sam initially goes into the woods to be alone, having lived in a very crowded house with his family in New York City. As he spends more time in the woods, Sam is surprised to find his strong desire to be alone fading. This desire is actually replaced by a conflicted sense that he may actually be happier around people.
His new sense is put directly to the test when his father calls out to him near the end of the novel.
One day Sam’s father arrives at his camp with the whole family, including Sam’s mother and eight siblings.
Sam's internal conflict regarding his preferred mode of living comes to its breaking point. He must decide to continue living alone or to greet his family.
This decision is dramatized in the narrative as Sam's thoughts on the matter are directly related to the reader. Sam even begins to run away, thinking that he is capable of living indefinitely in the woods using the skills he has attained in the past year.
In the end, Sam realizes that he does desire companionship and he turns around, running to meet his entire family as they make their way up the mountain.