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Dan Smith
Why are students reading "The Yearling?"

I've noticed several questions being asked by different people, all referring to quotations from The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings--although they didn't identify the source. Obviously some teacher or teachers think this is a good assignment for beginning readers of English, and I'm wondering why.


It is a recognized minor American classic, published in 1938. I think I'm going to re-read it (I haven't read it since I was a kid.) However, it is set in backwoods 1870s Florida and is very heavy on dialect, regional vocabulary, and regional colloquial English usage. 


"Jody, I'll declare. I ain't never had meat stand and wait for me, the way that buck stood in the road. He didn't pay the horse no mind. Jest stood there. My first thought was, ''Tarnation, and me with no shells to my new gun.' Then I unbreeched the gun and looked in, and bless Heaven, I mought o' knowed a Forrester would have ary gun full-loaded. There was two shells in the gun, and there stood the buck, jest waitin'. I cracked down and he dropped. Right in the road, handy as a sack o' meal. I h'isted him over old Cæsar's rump and away we goed. Tell you what come to me. 'Me bringin' in venison,' I figgered, 'Ma won't crawl me for leavin' Jody with Fodder-wing.'"

As I say it's a recognized minor classic, but it's not at all the sort of thing I'd think would be good learning material for non-native speaker. It is also a pretty long book--it seems to be about 130,000 words, or twice the length of (say) Black Beauty.

I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with it--but if anyone knows why it might have been chosen as assigned reading for English learners--I'd be curious to know.


Translation: waaal I cain't reckon nohow why in tarnation a body might-could select sich and I's gots an mighty big passel o' curiosity consarnin' what th' notion mought be.

Dec 21, 2014 4:23 PM
Comments · 9

If you ask me, classic novels in genaral aren't suitable for language leaners. It's better and more effctive if they read materials whiche written nowadays just like daily newspapers, modern novels etc, because the language changes all the time.

December 28, 2014

I think I've solved the mystery of "feice". It's a variant of "feist", a small hunting



December 28, 2014

I'm not sure, but I love venison.

January 1, 2015

Thank you indeed Susan!


Mohamed, I agree with you totally! :D

December 29, 2014

Susan612, thank you! And Wikipedia

says, "developed via crossbreeding of various other hunting breeds in the rural southern United States."

And I have now edited Wikipedia to add a redirect from "Feice" so that a Wikipedia search for "Feice" will now retrieve that article.

And, yes,

says that "Feisty," "Full of spirit or determination; plucky or spunky" OR "Quarrelsome or aggressive" is derived from "feist."

December 28, 2014
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Dan Smith
Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language