Author: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
First published: 1938; illustrated
Locale: Florida scrub country
Time: Late nineteenth century
Jody Baxter, a young Florida boy. A lover of animals, of play, and of the excitement of hunting, Jody is a child at the beginning of the story. Matured by the experiences of one year—his father's illnesses, the death of Fodder-wing, and the killing of Flag—Jody is at the end of the novel ready to accept the responsibilities that come with growing up. One of the most appealing and believable boys in American fiction, Jody deserves comparison with Tom Aldrich, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Stephen Crane's Whilomville boys.
Ezra “Penny” Baxter, his father, a friend and companion to his son, who idolizes him. Penny's diminutive size only increases Jody's admiration of his father's ability to hunt and work hard for a plain living. Penny possesses scrupulous honesty and a simple philosophy of life that he attempts to pass on to his son. Both father and son are drawn to the beauty of the rich and varied natural world about them.
Ora“Ma”Baxter, Jody's mother, a bulky woman considerably larger than her husband. She loves Jody but is annoyed by his “wasting” time and is unwilling to forgive Flag for his depredations.
Fodder-wing Forrester, Jody's crippled friend, a frail boy who loves and has a way with animals, especially those that, like himself, have been crippled through no fault of their own. He dies shortly after naming Flag for Jody.
Oliver Hutto, Penny's friend, whose courtship of Twink causes him to be beaten by the Forrester boys and whose marriage results in the vengeful burning of his mother's home.
Grandma Hutto, his mother, a friend of the Baxters.
Twink Weatherby, Oliver's yellow-haired sweetheart and later his wife.
Lem Forrester, the older brother of Fodder-wing. He is jealous and fiercely resentful of Oliver's love for and marriage to Twink.
Buck Forrester, another Forrester brother who helps the Baxters after Penny is bitten by a rattlesnake.
Flag, Jody's beautiful but mischievous and destructive pet fawn. He is wounded when Mrs. Baxter, in anger, shoots him because of the destruction he has caused. Jody sorrowfully shoots him again to end his suffering. Flag's growing up partly parallels Jody's. Flag fails to adapt his irresponsible ways to life with the Baxters and dies as a result. Jody rebels at first against life's ways but at last submits and learns to accept the sorrows of life with its joys.
Pa and Ma Forrester, rough but good-hearted parents of the exclusively male Forrester brood.
Mill-Wheel, Gabby, Pack, and Arch Forrester, four of their sons.
Doc Wilson, the physician who attends Penny during his illnesses.
Old Slewfoot, a giant black bear that raids the Baxter hogs. He is finally killed by Penny.
Nellie Ginright, the owner of the canoe in which Jody flees after Flag's death.