Tough and sassy at ten when he defies his Dad (and wins, with the doctor's intervention) on the subject of eating cabbage, Rass really wants nothing more than his father's regard. But Dad, who favors sister Sally and brother LG, softens toward Rass only when the boy suffers from exposure (""Bein' froze ain't somethin' to take light,"" Mom says), and though he laughs approvingly when Rass fools prosperous Uncle Jake with a dead snake, he's less tolerant when his son (hoping for further reinforcement) plays the same trick on him. All this time Rass dreams of catching a big fish to earn Dad's admiration, but when at sixteen or so he gets his wish his father claims the credit for himself. That does it -- Rass leaves home and only then comes to ""honor"" his father in a qualified way. Seems like growing up poor on a Missouri farm in the '30's was never dull with Rass on hand, and his unfilled need for paternal acceptance is all the more moving for his own fractious grit.