Old Yeller



Mama—A patient, kind, and dutiful woman, Mama seems both young and old at the same time. Her age is reflected in her wisdom and foresight, which seem endless at times. Her youth is reflected in her willingness to indulge. She is amused by Arliss’ exaggerated stories, and she is willing to enjoy a bullfight atop the fence with her two sons. As a wife, she misses her husband, but as a mother she is very busy holding the house together, preparing the meals, and protecting the children.

Her role in Travis’ development is that of a helpmate, like Yeller. With Travis’ help, they protect the home from hydrophobia, but it is she who makes the final decision that Yeller must die. She offers to shoot him herself, to spare Travis. However, Travis knows what must be done, and as the “man” he knows he must be the one to do it. Mama helps him to see this ever so subtly and, as is her custom, gives him that little push he needs toward maturity.

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Essays About Old Yeller