The movie, “Old Yeller” and the book, “Where the Red Fern Grows” have many similarities and differences. In the book, the main character, Billy, is an only son who has three younger sisters. Billy says “I was well repaid by the love and adoration I saw in the wide blue eyes of my three little sisters” (Rawls 30). But in the movie, the main character, Travis, has only one younger brother, Arliss, and no other siblings. A similarity that Travis has with Billy is that they both have strong determination. In the book, Billy says “I’d save the money. I could sell stuff to the fishermen: crawfish, minnows, and fresh vegetables. In berry season, I could sell all the berries I could pick at my grandfather’s store. I could trap in the winter…There was the way to get those pups- save my money” (Rawls 25). In the film, Travis was determined to take care of Old Yeller, the dog in the film, once Travis was fond of him.
In the beginning of the movie, Travis tells his dad how he wants a horse and not a dog because his last dog was the best dog ever and he doesn’t want a new one. On the other hand, Billy wants two hound dogs right from the start. In the beginning of the second chapter, Billy tells his dad, “I don’t want an old collie dog. I want hounds-coon hounds-and I want two of them” (Rawls 16). Another difference is that when Arliss gets to keep Old Yeller, Travis is not a fan of him at first, but he does end up liking him. Also, as I have just written, the younger brother in the film receives the dog first, whereas in the book, the older brother and only son, gets the dogs, and he also has two dogs, not just one. When Billy first receives his two hounds, he says “Walking down the street toward town, I thought, “Now, maybe the people won’t stare at me when they see what I’ve got. After all, not every boy owns two good hounds”” (Rawls 41). Billy, from the book, also bought his two dogs. Billy tells his grandpa “…I was saving my money so I could buy two hound pups, and I did” (Rawls 28). But in the movie, Old Yeller finds his way on Travis’ family’s property, and the owner of Old Yeller ends up giving him to Travis’ family. A similarity that I noticed was that all the dogs in both, the film and the book, were very protective. In the book, Old Dan and Little Ann attacked a mountain lion to protect Billy. Billy explains how “Old Dan didn’t wait. Rearing up on his hind legs, he met the lion in the air… The impact of the two bodies threw the lion off balance. Little Ann darted in” (Rawls 193). In the film, Old Yeller tries to protect Travis from a bunch of hogs, and he also attacks a bear to protect Arliss.
Another contrast, yet similarity, is that in the movie, there is a second dog, but it isn’t until about half way that we meet him, and it is a little pup at that. He ends up becoming Arliss’ dog, while Old Yeller becomes Travis’ dog, basically, because Travis ends up liking him. But in the book, there is a consistency with the number of dogs throughout the story that Billy has in his life. Billy started with two dogs, and both dogs die at the end, sadly. Billy complains to his mother how he “…can’t understand. It was bad enough when Old Dan died. Now Little Ann is gone. Both of them gone, just like that” (Rawls 203). In the film, Old Yeller dies at the end also, but then the pup ends up taking his place.
Something that also was very similar, but different in a way, was the location for which the families lived in. They both lived in the country side. But the difference was that the family in the movie lived in Abilene, Texas, and the family in the book lived in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. In the beginning of the book, Billy says how his “…home was in a beautiful valley far back in the rugged Ozarks” (Rawls 17).
Last, but not least, is the death of the dogs in both of the stories. In the book, Old Dan dies from the injuries he gets from fighting the mountain lion to protect Billy. Billy tells his father “… but how can I forget Old Dan? He gave his life for me, that’s what he did-just laid down his life for me” (Rawls 200). Little Ann died from a broken heart, basically, because Old Dan wasn’t alive anymore, and she never knew a life without him. She had given up. Billy finds her at Old Dan’s grave. He says “With her last ounce of strength in her body, she had dragged herself to the grave of Old Dan…I reached out and touched her…My little dog was dead” (Rawls 203). In the movie, Old Yeller dies from getting a disease that he caught when he got injured from attacking the hogs to protect Travis.
There are so many similarities and differences between the two stories that I could write, but it would take up many more pages. These two stories are great stories for young boys, and I would recommend them to anyone, especially “Where the Red Fern Grows”. I have never cried so much from reading a book. But these stories are very good to compare and contrast overall.