Throughout the text, the boy is fueled by unyielding strength. While some may describe this attitude as optimistic, optimism is not exactly the right term—true, he is not pessimistic and never gives up, but he never acts particularly hopeful. It is difficult to attribute characteristics to the boy because he rarely speaks. As the reader, we are privy to some of his thoughts and wishes, but most of the information about the boy must be garnered through his actions. The fact that he never stops searching for his father and for Sounder points not only to undying strength, but also to a dogged determination that is characteristic of both his mother and father.
The boy is sad and lonely, and most of the time it does not appear that he has many joys in life. He works stoically, helping out at the cabin, searching diligently for his father and his dog, and learning to read. The boy rarely, if ever, complains about his plight. The way the boy accepts his situation suggests that he is patiently waiting for a break for his father to come home, or for a stroke of luck. Patience is only one of the virtues that he demonstrates, and Armstrong describes him as one who adheres to the tenets of the Bible. Perhaps this is why he is not pessimistic and is able to stay strong? With God's strength to guide him and the stories of the Bible to provide comfort, the boy's life is not as bereft as it seems. His virtue pays off in the end, as he happens upon a teacher who takes him in and accepts the task of teaching the boy to read. By the end of the book it feels as if everything has been put right for the boy, and that indeed, he has found what he was looking for, and more.