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The Light in the Forest

Conrad Richter

Chapters 3–4

Chapters 1–2

Chapters 3–4, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Chapter 3

On the third day of camp, the white soldiers become excited and work very quickly. True Son discovers that this is happening because they are leaving for Pennsylvania the next day. The news makes him very depressed, and he feels as if his life is coming to an end. He cannot imagine going to live with enemy people whom he sees as undignified.

As he thinks of a way to escape, True Son remembers a story about Cuyloga's friend, Make Daylight. Make Daylight's wife left him for another man and took their children with her. Instead of facing disgrace, Make Daylight committed suicide by eating the root of a May apple. True Son believes that if he kills himself he will be seen as brave and victorious over the inferior whites since they will be unable to take him away from the precious Indian land. True Son even envisions his Indian family mourning his death. However, Del prevents True Son from finding a May apple root that day, and the boy eventually decides to find one during the march to Pennsylvania.

The next morning, the white troops lead the captives down part of the path through which True Son and Cuyloga had come. For a moment True Son is happy because he feels as if he is going home. When the trail finally splits, True Son wants to cry out; he imagines himself running home free as a bird, but he is unable to escape from the white soldiers.

As they walk along, True Son hears a familiar voice call out through the woods. He is surprised and overjoyed to see his cousin, Half Arrow, standing partially hidden in the trees. Half Arrow does not understand why True Son is bound since he is supposed to be among his white brothers. He tells True Son that their friend, Little Crane, is marching with his white wife who is another of the prisoners being returned. Half Arrow decides to walk in the woods near True Son as well, even though it may be dangerous.

As the boys march together, Half Arrow jokingly asks how they are going to murder the nearly 2,000 white soldiers in order to set True Son free. True Son warns Half Arrow that some of the whites can speak Lenni Lenape, but he is still grateful for this Indian humor. The boys talk for a long time since they have been apart for three days. True Son feels healed by Half Arrow, and he no longer thinks about suicide.

Although at first Half Arrow fears being shot or scalped by the white soldiers, he gradually comes closer and closer to True Son until they are marching side by side. True Son shares his beef with Half Arrow, but the Indian boy finds the meat stringy and remarks that this is why white people are so bland. At night, Del orders Half Arrow to sleep apart from True Son since he does not trust any Indians. Before he goes off, Half Arrow gives True Son presents from his Indian family. True Son's uncle has sent him corn so that he will not go hungry; his mother has sent him moccasins embroidered in red so that he will remember his mother and sisters and be well-dressed for the white people; and his father has sent him True Son's old bearskin bed so that he will be warm and remember his father.

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