Where the Red Fern Grows

chapter 18 how do the dogs prove to be extraordinary


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A man who had wandered away returns and says he saw Billy's hounds looking frozen solid in ice, but alive. While Billy recovers from the shock of thinking his dogs are dead, the men help Grandpa into a makeshift stretcher and take him away.

Billy and two of the men find his dogs. Caked in ice, they have been circling continuously around the tree to keep from freezing. The men build a fire for them, and marvel at the determination and love of the dogs throughout the blizzard. After the dogs thaw out, one of the men shoots at the tree. The dogs kill the coon, and the men return to the camp. All the men are ready to leave for fear of another blizzard.

One of the men helping Billy expresses the view that if humans had the kind of love for each other that dogs have, "'There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed or selfishness. It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have - a wonderful world.'" He attaches the religious component that Billy has been alluding to each time God has answered his prayers. There is something spiritual about the dogs' love for each other and Billy, and God seems to be aiding them throughout their adventures.