A young African American boy and his family are living in poverty in the South during the 19th century. The young boy's father is a sharecropper and the family is struggling through hard times. Sounder is the family's dog, a coon/bulldog mixture. Sounder goes out hunting with the boy's father each and every night; The father and Sounder come back from their hunting expeditions empty handed. One morning when the boy wakes up he smells something miraculous. When the boy runs into the kitchen and sees his mother cooking a hambone. His father has brought ham to the household and everyone is overjoyed. For the first time in a long time the family has decent food in their bellies. A few days later the familys' happiness is shattered when three white men arrive at their home and accuse the boy's father of stealing a ham. Before his very eyes the three white men chain his father and cart him away to prison. Sounder, who is very attached to the father, barks and runs after the wagon as the father is taken away. The sheriff cruelly shoots Sounder. Believing Sounder to be dead or dying, the boy's mother tells her son to leave Sounder in peace to die. The boy looks for Sounder's body over the course of the next few days but cannot find the dog. In order to support the family, the boy's mother shucks walnuts and brings them to town for sale. One day the boy's mother bakes a cake and tells him to bring the cake to the jail for his father. Although the boy is excited to visit his father, his spirits are dashed when the jail workers smash his cake to bits prior to him delivering it to his father. Before he leaves the prison his father instructs him not to come back for future visits. As the boy continues his quest to find Sounder, he grapples with resentful feelings towards his father and the fate of his family as they struggle to survive.
This report prepared by Sandra Calhoune