Chapter 31 Summary
Baxter does not recover but will not let Ora call for the doctor. He suspects he has “been ruptured” but is convinced everything will be okay with time. Jody is worried but remembers far worse things from which his father has recovered.
Soon Jody reports that the corn is sprouting and looks perfect. Most of the next day Jody spends hunting with Flag. The next morning Jody goes to check the corn and is stunned to see no green shoots in the cornfield. When he examines the ground, he sees Flag’s tracks everywhere and is devastated. When Baxter asks about the crops, Jody tells him about everything but the corn. Finally he has to admit that Flag ate the entire field of corn.
Baxter is not surprised and will tell Ora the news as gently as possible. When his parents summon him, Jody sees that Ora is tight-lipped but hears his father say they will try once more. Jody is to re-plant the corn and build a high-fenced corral for Flag.
Jody feverishly plants the corn and will finish in the morning. Ora is not pleased, but Jody takes his cue from his father and responds with “unarguing silence.” Jody builds the corral but it is a strain to get it high enough; on the sixth day, Ora comes to help him. Unfortunately, their best efforts are futile, as Flag easily jumps over it—and then eats part of the second crop of corn. Jody is devastated and Baxter is heart-broken when he tells his son he must take Flag into the woods, tie him up, and shoot him. They cannot afford to starve this winter.