Chapter 33 Summary
Jody walks woodenly toward Jacksonville. He will go to Boston, leaving his betrayal behind him. He borrows a boat and paddles all day, numb with grief but even more bitter that his father turned against him. Now there is no comfort for him anywhere.
On the second day, loneliness overwhelms him as he continues his journey. Suddenly he finds himself in open water and panics. He tries to find the mouth of the river he wants but cannot, and his hunger rages. Now he understands his parents’ fear of starvation. He works his way along the shore and finds a cabin in which to sleep—a “drugged, nightmare-ridden sleep.” His hunger makes him lethargic and Jody begins to sob before eventually losing consciousness. He wakes up in the cabin of a boat which has landed at Volusia.
The captain deposits Jody on shore; now there is “no place left to go, but Baxter’s Island.” He is convinced that his parents are better off without him and will not welcome him. He drops to rest near a cool spring and realizes it is the same spring at which he built a flutter-mill last April, just a year ago. He builds another flutter-mill but finds no joy in it, no “magic in the motion.”
Jody is suddenly afraid he will never see Baxter again and races home. Baxter is huddled in front of the fire in his quilt. Baxter barely recognizes this thin, grimy boy as his son, but he is overjoyed to see him. Jody is amazed that his father still wants him. Baxter sees that something is different, that Jody is no longer a yearling.
Jody is old enough to choose his own destiny, and he chooses to stay here and help his father build their farm. That night Jody sleeps in his own bed, convinced he will never love anything more than he loved Flag; but he knows a man must endure his suffering and move on with his life. He dreams of a boy and a yearling running side by side through the forest until they are gone forever.