Sounder might come home again. But you must learn to lose, child. The Lord teaches the old to lose. The young don't know how to learn it. Some people is born to keep. Some is born to lose. We was born to lose, I reckon .
This quote from chapter four points to the basic foundation of their lives—that they are poor sharecroppers who do not have much and whose lives involve more of losing than getting. The mother's words here are a bit late—she says this after the boy's father and dog are gone. He has already learned how to lose. She considers it their lot in life to reckon with events like the ones that befall them in the book. Another reason this quote is so significant is that is demonstrates the mother's matter-of-fact attitude concerning their hardships and the kind of life they have. She makes no apologies for the fact that they are the kind of people who tend to lose, but simply approaches it as an unchangeable fact of life—so unchangeable that it is something the boy needs to learn and accept. She is also unapologetic for the fact the boy must learn such a difficult lesson but simply sees his need for understanding and accepting it as a necessity. The boy's mother never pities herself or her son, nor does she encourage him to pity himself or anyone else. She understands the uselessness of self-pity and instead encourages the acceptance of loss as a fact of life, not something to mourn or fight.