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The Light in the Forest

Conrad Richter

Chapters 5–6

Chapters 3–4

Chapters 5–6, page 2

page 1 of 3

Chapter 5

True Son thinks to himself that from now on he must make his own decisions as an Indian. He is suffocated by the miserable conditions of Fort Pitt, but nothing can prepare him for what lies beyond the mountains. When the troops reach the desolate part of the country where the forests have been cut down, True Son realizes that this is the white homeland. Horrified by the fences and stone houses, the boy cannot imagine why the whites imprison themselves in such restricted areas.

As they enter the village, crowds of people come to greet the soldiers and prisoners. Del tells True Son that his white father is coming for him in the morning, and True Son is shocked to think that his father may be among the people staring at them. The next morning, the white prisoners are herded onto stands in the town square where they are promptly examined by the crowds for certain birthmarks and features. Colonel Bouquet soon puts an end to the commotion, and the rest of the ceremony is conducted in an orderly fashion.

True Son pays very close attention to all that goes on. He watches as the unwilling captives are brought up one by one in front of the crowd, and he is proud to see that the only people not showing their emotions are the captives themselves. By the end of the ceremony, True Son and two other young girls are the only prisoners left unclaimed. For a moment True Son feels hopeful that his white father does not care about him, but shortly thereafter his father arrives on horseback and is led to his son.

A chill runs through True Son's body as he struggles to accept that the unimportant-looking person is his real father. The boy feels superior to the colorless man who is wearing a strange hat and clothing that resembles those of women. When Del orders True Son to shake hands with his father, the boy reluctantly gives his hand although he remains silent. True Son considers how much more noble and dignified his Indian father is compared to his white father. He cannot believe that the white man before him is openly showing emotion, an act his Indian father would never allow.

Del tells True Son to say that he is happy to see his father, but the boy harshly replies that the white man is not his father. The soldier makes a face at this comment but dutifully translates the message to the white man and Colonel Bouquet. Eventually it is decided by the Colonel that Del will travel along with True Son and his father. Although True Son is told that Del is coming along to translate Yengwe (English) for him and Delaware for his family, True Son knows that Del is really going to protect the white family from any violence. The boy is disappointed by this news because it means that he will have to wait longer to carry out his "plan."

Chapter 6

Del Hardy is overjoyed to see Fort Pitt after having lived in Indian country for weeks. The sight of English flags waving over solid stone houses makes him deeply emotional; he thinks of how these signs represent his countrymen. As the soldiers march closer to Pennsylvania, Del decides that setting foot on an open field or road must be one of the best feelings a white man can have after traveling through the thick woods of the Indians. He thinks about the trouble he has faced and is thankful that they are going to a place where nobody needs to be afraid. As they approach the white settlement, Del gazes happily at the fences, barns, and other symbols of industry.

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