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    SUBJECTS — U.S./1865-1913 & Florida; Literature/U.S.;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Male Role Model; Coming of Age;
            Running Away; Father/Son; Mother/Son;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Responsibility; Caring.

    Age: 8 - 12; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1946; 128 minutes; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     Jody is a young boy living on an isolated homestead in the Florida swamps after the Civil War. He adopts an orphaned fawn and raises it as a pet. The movie recounts the boy's experiences as he grows to manhood and tries to keep the fawn as it matures into an adult deer. The film is adapted from the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

    Benefits of the Movie:     "The Yearling" introduces children to the difficult frontier life in rural Florida during the second half of the 19th century. The father is a role model for a loving family man and a hard working pioneer. The mother's somewhat difficult relationship with her son gives depth to the story and shows that adults can have strong fears and emotional problems that interfere with their ability to be good parents.

    Good readers, ages 11 and older, should be encouraged to read the novel before seeing the film.

    Possible Problems:    MODERATE: At the end of the movie, Jody is forced to kill his pet deer. It has been mortally wounded by his mother who found it eating the family's corn seedlings for the third time. If your child is very sensitive or attuned to animals, you may need to comfort him or her at the end of the movie.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.

    Note also that Jody runs away from home and is saved by a friendly boat captain. You may want to discuss with your child the dangers of running away in today's world. Explain that Jody was fortunate to be rescued by a person who returned him to his family. That was not always the case then and it is not always the case now. Explain how running away subjects children to great risks (go into as much detail as you can without giving the child nightmares).

    There is some alcohol use and pipe smoking in the film.

    Parenting Points:     Your child may have been assigned this book by a teacher who also intends to show the film. Be sure you do not interrupt the teacher's lesson by showing the film before the class assignments are completed. This is a touching story about love for an animal and responsibility to family as well as the resiliency of the spirit of youth. Be prepared to console your child should he or she be justifiably saddened by the death of the deer. Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Questions.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards: 1946 Academy Awards: Best Color Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration, Outstanding Child Actor (Jarman); 1947 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor-Drama (Peck); 1946 Academy Awards Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Peck), Best Actress (Wyman), Best Director (Brown), Best Film Editing.

      Featured Actors: Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarman Jr., Chill Wills, Henry Travors.

      Director: Clarence Brown.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION #1: This movie shows Jody growing up in many ways. Describe some lessons that he learned in this story.

Suggested Response: There are several. They include: even if he loved something he couldn't always save it; he had to think about the survival of his family more than his love for the deer; and he had to act in the world to do the right thing, sometimes even when he didn't want to; he couldn't run away from his problems, he had to face them and deal with them.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION #2: What are the dangers of running away?

Suggested Response: The dangers of running away include getting injured in a new environment and meeting up with strangers who will appear to be helpful but who will really want to do you harm.

    Helpful Background:

    The most important goal for pioneer families in the Florida swamps was to grow food. Once there was enough food to sustain the family, the goal was to put in a "money crop." This would permit the purchase of new equipment or the installation of improvements to the farm (such as a well). One or two luxuries (a new dress, a toy) could be purchased with the proceeds of a money crop. In rural Florida in the last half of the 19th century, the money crops were tobacco and cotton. When a pioneer did not have a money crop and he needed a new piece of equipment, such as a gun, he had to trade for it. In the movie, the father trades the dog for a gun.

    Child mortality haunted the life of a pioneer. Most children did not live beyond three years because medicine was primitive and doctors far away. There were three graves of children, all under the age of three, in the graveyard of the family portrayed in this film.

    Many pioneers were illiterate or read poorly. Telling tales by the fireside at night was a favorite pioneer pastime Tall tales such as Paul Bunyan were created in this way.

    Jody has a very thick accent. Some viewers may find this annoying, but Florida "crackers" did have thick accents.

    If you ever go to Orlando, take your children to see the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: thicket, "money crop," "cash crop," "child mortality," "sweet tater pone," "slicker than a clay road in the rain," vittles, critter, "kick up his heels."

For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    1.  Would you consider the father in this film to be a male role model? Justify your answer.

    2.  Did the father do the right thing to sell the dog? Suggested Response: No. He told the truth but in a way he knew that he would not be believed.


    3.  Would you run away if you had to kill your favorite pet in order to prevent it from eating your family's food?

    4.  What could have happened to Jody when he ran away?

    5.  Was Jody right to run away?


    6.  Why was the mother afraid to love Jody? What was she afraid of?

    7.  How would you describe the father's relationship with his son?

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

For suggestions about using filmed adaptations of literary works in the ELA classroom, see Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories and Plays.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)

    1.  Did Jody behave responsibly with regard to the yearling?


    (Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)

    2.  What would have happened to this family if they didn't love each other?

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

    Bridges to Reading: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is an excellent book for strong young adolescent readers.
  MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: Children 14 and above who have read the book and seen the movie might want to watch Cross Creek. Based on the memoirs of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, this film recounts the factual situation from which The Yearling was taken. An interesting fact: the child that had the pet deer was actually a girl.

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