In past reviews, people have speculated that if The Yearling were to have been published in today's times, would it still have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. For me, I would have to say that that would be a resounding yes. I say so because the novel captures, with vivid simplicity, a bygone American era via the stark usage of the literaty resources available to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the time, quite simply, the values, environment and language which surrounded her. Being the excellent and astute writer that she was, she transposed those raw yet natural elements to her characters, specificially the gruff yet loving Baxter clan.
In a time where people are adrift due to the constant onslaught of materialism, celebrity, technology, vanity, money, you name it, the Baxter clan are a refreshing anomaly, for all of the above was not really available to them, and if it was, it was to a very limited degree. But because of that humbling deprivation, they as a family and individualistically speaking, were interiorily richer in so many different capacities. Their lessons came from the law of the land, the primal yet earthy philosophy of kill or be killed. But it was also a deep almost religious respect of the land and its animals that could definitely shape the thinking and the ever evolving twists and turns that are in abundance in The Yearling. Ezra Baxter-Jody's father-to some extent, could be considered as the Atticus Finch of the Florida backwoods, for he respects the codes that govern the wilderness and for the wild animals who occupy it. And thus, he kills only when necessary; he imbues that code of ethics in Jody who is of a tremendously malleable age, especially by the Forrester family and their sometimes less-than-stellar behavior.
The novel is about being a boy, about growing up and about sacrifice, and when Jody, a lone child, adopts a fawn whom he names Flag, the emptiness of being a lone child abates; the fawn, a cherished pet, is a co-experiencer with Jody of the highs and lows of living in the scrub country, and he is there for Jody's various milestones, his inching along toward the tower of manhood. But sometimes just doing the day-to-day obligations of life is simply not enough. Sometimes one has to go beyond what is expected, and the latter half of the book illustrates that sacrifice entails pain, large or small, for real love sometimes does hurt. The Yearling is pungent, pure, simple, true and very very giving, absolutely worthy of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize.