Chapter 32 Summary

Jody and Flag wander west, and he tells himself his parents cannot make him kill Flag. Jody had raged and was soundly thrashed by Ora, and now he stops to think through possible solutions to this problem, just as Baxter does. Jody has an idea and walks the four miles to the Forresters’. The boys are all gone, so he asks their parents what they would do. Unhesitatingly, they say the yearling must be shot.

Jody’s new plan is to take Flag to Jacksonville, but the animal refuses to be restrained. Jody is exhausted and rests for a bit; when he wakes up, he follows Flag’s tracks back home. Jody sleeps with Flag in the barn and wakes up “stiff and miserable,” but he knows he must face his parents when he sees that Flag has eaten the rest of the corn crop and a wide section of the cow-peas. Baxter understands when his son tells him he simply could not shoot Flag, so he tells him to go to his room.

Jody waits in silence then unexpectedly hears a shot. Ora has wounded Flag and begs Jody to put the animal out of his misery. Jody runs to Flag, but the animal runs away from him as if he were the enemy. Baxter tells Jody that he must be the one to put the creature out of its misery.

Jody screams his hatred at both parents as he snatches the gun and follows the wounded creature. Flag is at the top of the sink-hole and Jody watches him lose his balance and topple down the slope. Flag looks up at Jody with “great liquid eyes” full of wonderment before Jody unwillingly kills him. Now Jody falls on his stomach, retching and clawing the earth, beating it with his fists before fainting.