Ma Baxter may come out as a cold-hearted woman even to her only child but it was only because she lived in difficult circumstances. Her most cherished wish is to be able to do her washing at her own backyard instead of travelling half a mile to get a bucket of water.
Penny Baxter is a good man down to his very bones and well-liked by everyone around him. But his faith in the goodness of mankind finally shattered by an act of vengeance though not directed to him.
Their avoidance of Penny made their guilt incontrovertible. It saddened him. His hard-won peace lay shattered about him. A stone thrown at some distance, and meant for someone else, had struck him. He was bruised and troubled.Jody Baxter is like any other 12-year old boy - curious, adventurous, thinks highly of his father and hates girls. But he's also a lonely soul being the only kid within a 13-mile radius. His weakness? Desperately wants a pet to love which he finally found in an orphaned fawn. But he has to discover the hard way that life is not just about traipsing in the forest and the search for companion.
Penny, or rather Rawlings, summed up the meaning of life in two paragraph. Genius.
Penny said, "You've seed how things goes in the world o' men. You've knowed men to be low-down and mean. You've seed ol' Death at his tricks. You've messed around with ol' Starvation. Ever' man wants life to be a fine thing, and a easy. 'Tis fine, boy, powerful fine, but 'tain't easy. Life knocks a man down and he gits up and it knocks him down agin. I've been uneasy all my life."
"I've wanted life to be easy for you. Easier'n t'was for me. A man's heart aches, seein' his young uns face the world. Knowin' they got to git their guts tore out, the way his was tore. I wanted to spare you, long as I could. I wanted you to frolic with your yearlin'. I knowed the lonesomeness he eased for you. But ever' man's lonesome. What's he to do then? What's he to do when he gits knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on."
And last but not least, my favourite line,
"You come to late. I'd fotched you, if there'd been time. There wasn't time to fetch ol' Doc. One minute he was breathin'. The next minute he jest wa'n't. Like as if you blowed out a candle."I was sitting in the immigration office when I read this part and I have to hold back my tears. If I was alone the tears would have come like a waterfall. sigh. I'm such a sentimental freak.
The book was very well adapted to the big screen with the ever charismatic, favourite dad of the silver screen, Gregory Peck playing Penny Baxter. It's quite loyal to the basic plot even down to the memorable lines above, but missed out on some important stuff like the hunt of ol' Slewfoot and how Penny and Jody got a firsthand experience on the wickedness of men. But that's forgivable because it's always a challenge to squeeze in a whole book into a 2-hour movie. There's nothing wrong that I can say about this movie only that Peck was just a wee bit too good-lookin' as Penny Baxter.