How did Penny in The Yearling get his name?

Quick answer:

Penny got his nickname in The Yearling from Lem Forester, who used to taunt him about his size when he was younger. In other words, Penny is small, just like a penny. As a result of his stunted growth Penny had a hard time of it growing up, but it has also made him the man he is.

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Penny Baxter—or Ezra Ezekiel Baxter, to give him his proper name—grew up in a very harsh, uncaring environment. As well as being subjected to a stern upbringing by his deeply religious father, he also had to endure extreme poverty. In fact, Penny's family were so poor that there was hardly enough food to go around.

This, combined with the fact that Penny's been forced to work from an early age, meant that his bones didn't develop properly, and so his growth was stunted. Lem Forester, for one, wasn't very sympathetic to Ezra's unfortunate plight; he cruelly taunted Ezra about his size, giving him the nickname Penny, an insulting reference to his diminutive stature. (Ezra, is small, just like a penny).

Despite its origins, however, the nickname has stuck, and Ezra Baxter is generally known as Penny. But the name doesn't tell us the whole story about him; not by a long way. For though he may be small in stature, Penny has a big heart. A hard-working family man who'll always do right by his wife and son, Penny is the epitome of what a good father and husband should be. His nickname, therefore, doesn't define who and what he is, and it never will.

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