Netflix’s ‘Frybread Face and Me’ is an intimate story with just a handful of characters who leave a mark on the audience. The limited setting allows the viewers to familiarise themselves with the characters easily and more deeply, especially as the summer rolls on and we see different sides of them. The relationships between the characters are complicated on various levels, but if there is one member of the family who is loved by everyone, it is Reba. This is why her death hits so hard. SPOILERS AHEAD
Reba Dies in an Accident
Named after Reba McEntire, the dog is Uncle Marvin’s beloved pet. She is friendly to Benny, who feels out of place at his grandma’s house at first. Reba mostly remains in the background, much like Uncle Marvin, who likes to keep to himself, apart from when he teases Benny and Fry. The dog becomes a part of Benny’s routine, and when she dies, the boy realizes he must learn to make peace with other things in life, too.
Reba’s death is unexpected because she dies in an accident. She wasn’t old or ill, so everyone expected her to stick around. She had an open space around the house and would run freely in the desert, frolicking in the dirt. One day, she runs into the road where she is hit by the ice cream truck that she used to chase whenever it passed by. Benny notices the truck stop and Reba lying in front of it from the window of the hut where his grandma weaves the rug.
It must have been a hard hit because Reba died on the spot. There’s no time to take her to the hospital and hope for her recovery. Benny gets her off the road, and she is buried somewhere on the ranch. Her death hits Uncle Marvin pretty hard, who cries and has the first and only heart-to-heart with Benny. He knows that his nephew also loved the dog, and her death creates an unspoken bond between them.
Marvin reveals that he brought Reba from Flagstaff when she was just a puppy. This act shows that he has kindness and a soft heart, as opposed to the rudeness and bitterness that Benny experienced from him since day one. Marvin talks fondly about the dog and how she always followed around his mother, who also loved her very much. It’s his way of showing how he feels sorry for the dog’s death and is clearly heartbroken by it.
The conversation also sparks a feeling of understanding and camaraderie between the uncle and the nephew, which they’d struggled to find since Benny’s arrival. It’s as if the loss has created a bridge between them, especially for Marvin, who also talks about his childhood and how Benny’s mother took care of him and their siblings when they were little. Reba’s unexpected death is one of the most heartbreaking moments in the film and is further followed by bittersweet moments that build up to the ending that leaves the audience and Benny wishing there were more days in summer.