Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Yearling (1946)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Yearling (1946)

In director Clarence Brown's family drama and sensitive coming-of-age tale about a poor, struggling pioneer family living in rural Florida in the late 1870s on a farm named "Baxter's Island":

Ezra "Penny" Baxter (Gregory Peck)

11 Year-Old Jody Baxter

Orry Baxter (Jane Wyman)
  • in the opening dinner scene and after, it was obvious that the somber, emotionally-distant and stern Mrs. Orry Baxter (Jane Wyman) held a grudge against her immature, nature-loving, sole and lonely 11 year-old son - Florida farm boy Jody (Claude Jarman, Jr.) for his lazy nature, and for wanting a pet - a baby 'coon or a bear cub as a companion ("I wish I had me something to pet and play with"); she only regarded a pet as another mouth to feed: ("How you think we can spare rations for some critter whereas all we can do is keep our own bellies full?"); Jody's father Ezra "Penny" Baxter (Gregory Peck) was more supportive, kind-hearted and loving toward his only son and reminded Orry: "Seems like you get mighty hard on the boy at times, Orry...Well, a boy ain't a boy too long. Leave him kick up his heels a little now. The day will come he won't even want to...Don't be afraid to love the boy, Orry"
  • Penny mentioned the reason for Orry's uptight and hard-edged demeanor - she was still grieving over the premature deaths of three of their children: "Tain't easy for a woman to have her young'uns taken away from her like that, son. It does something to her. Makes something inside her close up tight"
  • the exciting scene of Jody hunting with his father Penny to pursue "Old Slewfoot" - a bear that had attacked and killed the family's calf, resulting in the injury of the Baxter's dog Julia and the backfiring of the gun
  • when Jody and his father were out one day, he was bitten in the arm by a rattlesnake; Penny shot and killed a doe and used its heart and liver to treat the snakebite; after Penny recuperated, Jody talked his father into allowing him to adopt the doe's orphaned pet fawn: "Pa, you recollect that little fawn she had?...Most likely it's mighty scared and lonesome and hungry...It might be out there yet, not knowing which way to go....It won't take much to raise it, Pa...We taken its mammy, and it weren't no ways to blame" - Pa agreed: "It don't seem grateful to let it starve, do it?" - in a heartwarming scene, Jody went searching for the fawn and his face lit up when he located the fawn in some bushes ("It's me - Jody!")
  • immediately, Penny set down limits on Orry's expected criticism of Jody's new pet: "Orry, I got one thing to say, and then I'll have no more talk about it. The little fawn's as welcome in this house as Jody. It's his'n, and we'll raise it without grudgement of milk or meal. You got me to answer to do I ever hear you quarrelin' about it. This is Jody's Fawn, just like Julie's my dog" - the fawn quickly grew in size, but was Jody's constant companion, romping with him in the wild, and sleeping in his bed

The Fawn Quickly Grew Larger

And Slept in Jody's Bed
  • Jody went to ask his crippled neighbor friend Fodderwing Forrester (Donn Gift) to name the fawn, and learned about his friend's sudden and unexpected death; he mourned after looking at his friend's body laid in a bed; Jody heard that Fodderwing would have named a pet fawn Flag (because of its white tail): ("He did name him. He said, 'A fawn has a little white flag. His tail is a little white flag. If I had a fawn, I'd name him flag.' He said, 'Flag the fawn is what I'd call him"") - and that was adopted as the pet's name
  • Jody's father delivered a moving eulogy for Fodderwing at his funeral and gravesite; he specifically mentioned Fodderwing's kind treatment of wild creatures, and said that in the Lord's House, Fodderwing would be healed of his crippling ailment: "O Lord, Almighty God, it ain't for us ignorant mortals to say what's right and what's wrong. If it was any one of us to be doin' it, we'd not have made this poor boy into a cripple. But, Lord, in a way of speaking, you made it up to him. You give him a way with the wild critters. You give him a sort of wisdom, made him knowin' and gentle. And now you've seen fit to take him where being crookedy in mind or limb don't matter. But, Lord, it pleasures us to think now you've straightened out them legs. It pleasures us to think on him walkin' around as easy as anyone. And, Lord, give him a few redbirds and maybe a squirrel or a coon to keep him company like he had here. All of us is somehow lonesome, and we know he'll not be lonesome do he have them little wild things around him, if it ain't askin' too much to put a few varmints in heaven. Thy will be done. Amen"; at the conclusion of the eulogy, Jody looked skyward toward Heaven
Moving Funeral Eulogy for Fodderwing
  • the family struggled after a downpour of rain lasting six days, ruining and rotting the crops; Penny offered a prayer of hope with his family at his side as the rain finally stopped and the sun came out: "Ma, it seems like at times a body gets struck down so low, ain't a power on Earth can ever bring him up again. Seems like somethin' inside him dies so he don't even want to get up again. But he does. Ain't much of a world left for us, Orry, but it's all we got. Let's be thankful we got any world at all"
  • then, after the fawn had been with the family and was about a year old (the "yearling" of the film's title), it began to cause further problems - trampling the tobacco shoots, eating the fledgling corn crop, and hopping over fences; Penny spoke harshly to Jody about Flag's destructive ways: ("And you know there ain't a way in the world to keep that wild yearling from destroying 'em"); he insisted that Jody eliminate the troublesome Flag by shooting it: ("Take the yearling out in the woods and tie him and shoot him")
Jody Instructed By His Father to Shoot His Beloved Yearling Flag
  • although Jody took Flag into the woods, instead of killing the animal, he disobeyed and tearfully begged Flag to run away - a heart-breaking scene: ("You got to go away, Flag. You got to go away and never come back. You're growed up now. You got to go out and find yourself a doe. Can't all live together like I planned. You've been bad - without meaning to be. You can make out by yourself, can't you? You'll be all right. You're smart. Besides, I don't -- don't care for you no more. You ain't cute like you used to be when you was little. That's right. You go now. Ain't nobody got any use for you around here anymore! Go on, you hear me? You go! There ain't nothin' more I can do to save you! Go on! You're gonna get killed you stay around here! Get out afore I have to shoot you! And don't you never come back! Don't you never!")
Jody Took Flag Into the Woods and Begged Him to Run Away
  • however, Flag followed Jody home; Jody was reprimanded for disobeying his father: "How come you not to do what I told you?" - and his mother was instructed to kill Flag with the two-shot double-barreled shotgun; as Jody sat in his room, he heard a gun-shot
  • however, his mother wasn't a good shot and only seriously wounded Flag, and she apologized to Jody on the front porch: ("I didn't mean to hurt the critter. I can't shoot straight. You know I can't!"); his father urged Jody: "You got to finish him, boy. You got to put him out of his torment"; Jody grabbed the gun and chastized his parents - first his mother: "You done it on purpose! You always hated him!" - and then his father: "You went back on me! You told her to do it! I hate you! I hope you die! I hope I never see you again!"
  • but Jody also realized that he must shoot his beloved, but crop-devouring, suffering pet that he had earlier rescued - to save the farm and to put it out of its misery; he walked up to Flag: ("It's me, flag. It's me...Jody") - and with one shell still left in the chamber, he killed Flag (the shot was heard off-screen); then, he dropped the gun, and ran off; in the woods, he mourned and grieved for his lost Flag
  • Pa Baxter gave his opinion on the boy's growing up and coming-of-age after he had fled (in despair over Flag's death) and returned home three days later (after drifting away in a wooden canoe and nearly starving): ("Now, you've seed how things go in the world of men. Every man wants life to be a fine thing, and easy. Well, 'tis fine, son... Powerful fine, but 'tain't easy. I wanted life to be easy for you, easier than it 'twas for me. A man's heart aches seeing his young'uns face the world, knowing they got to get their insides tore out the way his was tore. I wanted to spare you as long as I could. I wanted you to frolic with your yearling. I knowed the lonesomeness be easy for you. But every man's lonesome. What's he to do then? What's he to do when he gets knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on")
  • when Orry returned shortly later, Penny admitted to her that their son had grown up: "He's done come back different. He's taken the punishment. He ain't a yearling no longer" - Jody's mother went to his bedside to gratefully kiss, hug, and comfort him for coming home

Penny to Orry: "He ain't a yearling no longer"

Orry Grateful To Have Her Son Back Alive
  • in the film's final fantasy scene, Jody began to dream that he was cavorting with the young deer as the music swelled

"Baxter's Island" Farmsite

Hunting "Old Slewfoot"

Crippled Boy Fodderwing (Donn Gift)

Recuperating From Rattlesnake Bite - And Agreeing to Let Jody Adopt the Orphaned Fawn as Pet

Jody's Discovery of Fawn in the Bushes

Jody After Finding the Fawn

Jody With Dead Friend Fodderwing

Jody Adopting the Name 'Flag' Suggested by Fodderwing Before He Died

Jody With His Beloved Animal Flag

The Devastating Flooded Farm - Prayer for Hope

Flag Eating Fenced-In Corn Crop

Jody's Mother - After Seriously Injuring Flag: "I didn't mean to hurt the critter"

Jody Chastizing His Parents

Jody's Last Words to Flag: "It's me, Flag. It's me... Jody"

After Three Days, Jody Returned to His Father

Last Fantasy-Dream Sequence


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