“Whitefoot” is a short story by Wendell Berry that tells the tale of a young boy named Benjy and his encounter with a wild rabbit in the Kentucky countryside.
The story begins with Benjy’s family sitting down to dinner, where his mother mentions that a wild rabbit has been stealing from her garden. Benjy, who is fascinated by wildlife, immediately becomes excited and begins to ask his father questions about rabbits. His father tells him that rabbits are fast and elusive creatures and that catching one would be a challenge.
Determined to catch the rabbit, Benjy sets out early the next morning with his dog, Old Jack. As they wander through the fields and woods, Benjy begins to feel discouraged as he realizes just how difficult it is to find a rabbit in the wild. However, his luck changes when Old Jack suddenly starts barking and chasing after something.
Benjy follows the dog’s lead and soon finds himself face-to-face with a wild rabbit. The rabbit, which Benjy names “Whitefoot” due to its distinctive white feet, is terrified and tries to escape, but Benjy manages to catch it.
Over the course of the next few days, Benjy cares for Whitefoot, feeding it and keeping it safe in a cardboard box. He becomes very attached to the rabbit and spends all of his time watching it and playing with it.
However, one day, Benjy’s father tells him that it’s time to let Whitefoot go. Benjy is heartbroken but understands that it’s the right thing to do. He takes Whitefoot out into the woods and releases him, watching as the rabbit disappears into the underbrush.
In the end, Benjy learns an important lesson about the beauty and fragility of nature. Although he was initially thrilled to catch Whitefoot, he ultimately realized that the rabbit was meant to be free and that he had no right to keep it captive. The story ends with Benjy returning home, feeling a mix of sadness and gratitude for the brief time he spent with Whitefoot.