Old Yeller



Travis—Travis is a boy eager to assume the responsibilities of a man. While there are many aspects of his character that remain childlike and sometimes even childish, there are many traits that indicate a real desire on his part to be a mature, responsible, and effective “man of the house.” His father’s absence gives him a freedom he would not ordinarily have to stretch his wings and try on his father’s shoes, so to speak. Yet, at the same time, he realizes that should he need to be a child again, his Mama is there to help. There are a few occasions in which Travis goes from being the man of the house to being the boy, just as there are occasions in which he goes from being the boy to being the man.

Old Yeller, in a way, allows Travis to navigate the two roles rather easily. The dog allows Travis to be the typical boy in the “boy-and-his-dog” story, but Yeller also allows Travis to take on the more demanding role of the man by doing such strenuous activities as marking the hogs, breaking the heifer, and defending the cornfield. Yeller empowers Travis to a large degree. When Travis has to kill Yeller, he takes that final step toward adulthood that Yeller cannot help him take.

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Essays About Old Yeller