I'm reading Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows for my personal text for English 295. At some point I know I'm supposed to focus in on literary aspects of this book that I want to explore (though I'm not completely sure what the encompasses yet). Nevertheless, something significant about the book just stood out to me, and I thought I'd publish it here to see if any other Where the Red Fern Grows readers have thoughts on the topic.
On page 146 of a novel that only has 212 pages, I learn for the first time of the existence of a living grandmother in the story. The grandfather's role in the novel is major from the beginning to the end, but not once until page 146 is his wife mentioned. Also, Billy has three little sisters, all of whom are frequent recipients of Billy's generosity and admirers of his dogs, but not much else. His mother is a perpetual worrier, constantly concerned about Billy's safety. There isn't much depth to her character at all. In fact, there is no depth to any female character in the entire novel (unless you count Little Anne, Billy's dog).
I love Where the Red Fern Grows, so I hate to see in it something so unappealing as what I've just pointed out. Am I just being a feminist? I don't think so. The women are inarguably flat. I'll love this book no matter what sort of sexism I uncover, and I think this might be a topic I want to look into further.