Young Billy Colman wants nothing more than two great coon-hunting hounds of his own, but sadly his family’s financial situation makes this impossible. Billy’s father needs to provide for Billy, his wife, and his three daughters, much less two hunting hounds! Luckily for Billy when he was out in the woods one day he finds a catalogue advertising redbone hunting hounds. This gives Billy hope in buying the dogs for himself. He immediately goes to work collecting berries and fishing bait to sell to the local fisherman at his grandpa’s store. After two years Billy finally had the $50 needed to order the dogs. After a very eventful trip to town to pick up the pups and hiding from a mountain lion on the way home it is finally time to start training the dogs. Once raccoon season starts, billy is ably to help provide for his family by selling the coon skins and even wins $500 in a big coon hunting competition! On the way back from the competition Billy and his dogs encounter a mountain lion and Old Dan is fatally injured shortly after arriving home Old Dan dies and Little Ann dies shortly after of a broken heart. Billy is majorly depressed and he mourns his lost friends until the fall, when the family decides to use the money Billy made to move from the country into town so their children can get an education. As Billy goes to say good-bye to his hound’s graves he notices a red fern had started growing in between the two mounds and is given the peace he has been missing since the dogs died, and now is ready to grow up.
If you recognize that plot you probably read the book Where the Red Fern Grows at some point in your life. I read this book in my sixth grade English class and was able to get many great life lessons that I use to this day out of it. The most substantial lesson I received from that story is the fact that sometimes you have to let go of something that seems great but in reality is what is causing my pain. This is shown in the story when, in order to train his new pups, Billy needs to get a coon skin for them to chase. He doesn’t know how to get a coon skin without trained hounds to track it, but luckily his grandfather came up with a solution. Billy’s grandfather remembered a trap that can be used to catch coons without using dogs. the idea behind the trap is that you drill a hole in a log and drop a small shiny object in the hole, then you drive nails into the shaft. The raccoon will see the shiny object at the bottom and want it, so they reach into the hole and grab it, but once they grab it they can’t pull their hand out because the of the nails that make the hole too small for their closed fist to get back through.
It is simple to seek the hole in this plan, why can’t the raccoon just let go of the object and pull their hand out? Billy’s grandpa
explains that the strange thing about raccoon are that they are too stubborn to let go of the shiny thing. Once a raccoon decides that it wants something it becomes so determined to have it that it will not stop until it get the thing. So the raccoon will sit there forever until it ether pulls it’s fist out (which it won’t,) or the hunter comes along. Another interesting thing is that raccoons are not the only animals that do this human do this as well. We all have that thing that we just can’t seem to let go of, but we will never be truly free if we have it. We need to learn to just let go of the shiny thing in our lives, then we can truly be on the path to happiness.