The Symbolism Behind Where The Red Fern Grows

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

I feared when choosing to discuss, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” that its children’s book premise would make this entire thing old hat. As I get older, I pause when asked my favorite book, wanting to offer something by Shakespeare or Steinbeck, wondering if I could find something more monumental to demonstrate my views on life. 10 years ago, I believed this was simply a book about a china rabbit who gets lost and embarks on a journey, but now it’s a book about love as tribulation and redemption. It’s a book about—and an exploration into the heart of—myself.

I remember the day my third-grade teacher announced we’d be reading “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane”. My friends and I laughed at the strange title, but we went along with it, as we had just finished “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and the novel shock and awe of it left us dying to see what could possibly succeed. I went home that day to tell my parents that Edward Tulane, owned by a beloved Abilene Tulane, was a china rabbit who wore clothing, had joints, and even sat at the family dining table just like me. My mom made sure to point out that Edward was also conceited and completely aloof to Abilene’s unconditional love, something I should not relate to. Reading time had never been so electrifying as the day we learned that Edward had been thrown overboard by a couple of boys during a family vacation. Everyone in class was so over-the-moon to finally have some action in the story that we didn’t foresee the affects this pivotal moment would later have on us. Running on fruit snacks and play dates, I made my way through third grade while Edward’s course took him into the home of an old fisherman, Lawrence, who brought him out of the water; on the back of a railcar-hopping hobo, Bull; and to the bedsides of an ill Sarah Ruth and her brother Bryce.

Since the day I became acquainted with Edward, I’ve had few experiences with magnitude as large as his. However, my life echoes how he gained something from each person and left a piece of himself at every stop. I see Lawrence in my teachers, like Mr. Krogh, who sparked my love for math and has supported me since 6th grade. I see Bull in my friends, like Vicky, who is more of a sister to me, that I share some of my craziest memories and deepest secrets with. I see Sarah and Bryce in my parents, who despite their indifferences, will love and care for me until the end of time. Although I didn’t know it back in 2010, these people who make me who I am today are my Abeline. No matter how many times I love and lose, they will always be there to put me back together and bring me home (spoiler alert).

This story reminds me to be honest about how much I’m willing to risk for the things I care about; to strive toward the same child-like persistence and fearlessness that I had in third grade. It reminds me that despite how much we value dignity as we get older, there is something enlightening about allowing oneself to be undignified, messy, and desperate in life. Without that, all the pride in the world bolsters a stark china skeleton.

In the vast sea of life, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” will always be my lighthouse. Among all the puzzling life philosophies I could lose myself in, it’s comforting to remember that my ambitions can be explained by something so modest as the meanderings of a china rabbit: Feel love for what you lose. Feel love for what provokes you. Love until you are empty, and one day your heart will be filled by the love from those around you.  

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