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The Light in the Forest

Conrad Richter

Chapters 11–12

Chapters 9–10

Chapters 11–12, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 11

True Son feels his sickness growing worse steadily throughout the winter. At first he thought it was from straining his eyes to see a sign from his Indian people; all winter he waited for a message from them, but nothing came. True Son becomes more and more homesick as spring draws near and reminds him of the good times he and Half Arrow shared together. He begins to feel that his Indian people have forgotten about him since he has not heard from them in so long. What he despairs of especially, however, is the fact that his Indian soul is becoming steadily weaker. At first he resisted stubbornly to any aspects of white culture, but now he is growing accustomed to white ways. He works in the fields like a woman and, as Bejance remarks, he is getting more and more restricted. True Son still has little respect for his white father, whom he sees as too weak to control his pathetically frail wife, but True Son still follows his orders nonetheless.

This evening, however, True Son feels that something strange is in the air. Gordie tells him that Aunt Kate has seen an Indian outside, and True Son becomes very excited. He feels invigorated by the news and believes that the Great Spirit has not forgotten about him, after all. True Son slips into his Indian clothes and climbs out of his window into the night. Once outside, he shouts a secret Indian call that sounds like the hoot of an owl. The boy receives an answer from an Indian who asks him who he is and which tribe he is from. When finally True Son realizes that this Indian is Half Arrow, he is overjoyed. Half Arrow is also happy to see his cousin but says that he did not recognize True Son's voice because he sounded like a white trying to speak Lenni Lenape.

Half Arrow agrees to take True Son to see Little Crane, but his voice sounds strange. As Half Arrow leads True Son through the darkness, he seems to drag his feet, and True Son cannot understand what is wrong. The boys soon come to Little Crane's body lying near a tree, and True Son finally realizes that his friend has been scalped and killed by the whites. Half Arrow explains that the two had gone to the house of True Son's white uncle where they had told funny stories about silly things white people had done. Half Arrow cannot understand why the whites did not laugh at the jokes, but True Son becomes uneasy as the stories are described to him; he sees that his uncle was offended.

The boys decide to visit Uncle Wilse's cooper store to ask who killed Little Crane. True Son questions his uncle as to where Little Crane is, but the arrogant man simply says that the Indian is in a place where he will do no more harm. Uncle Wilse then grabs True Son, asking whether his father knows where he is. Half Arrow comes out of the darkness and strikes Uncle Wilse twice on the head with a tomahawk before the man loosens his grip and falls to the ground. Half Arrow wants to cut Uncle Wilse's heart out, but True Son dies not let him. The boys set to work scalping True Son's uncle as he grunts in pain until they see that one of Uncle Wilse's helpers has seen them and has gone to get a gun. True Son convinces Half Arrow to leave the scalp and in a hurry they run to the barn where True Son produces food, a rifle, powder, and several other items from beneath some hay. The boys scamper off together into the night as the sound of hooves awakens Paxton Township.

Chapter 12

When True Son awakes the next morning, he cannot remember what has happened the day before. All he can recall is lying near death in his white father's house, and he thinks for a moment that he is dead. Now he feels strong, however, and he is surrounded by nature atop the Kittaniny Mountain. He knows for certain that he is not dead when he sees Half Arrow lying asleep next to him, and all at once he remembers what they had been through together the previous day. He thinks happily that he can never go back to Paxton township because they will put him in prison or hang him if Uncle Wilse dies.

True Son wakes Half Arrow, and the boys start their long journey back to Tuscarawas. They pass by Corn Blade's mountain, and they cut through streams and rivers on the first day, hiding at times when they hear white men crossing in the woods. True Son becomes more and more happy as they travel deeper into the Indian forest. His only regret is that he has left Gordie behind, and he imagines his poor brother lying alone waiting for him to come back. Half Arrow notices True Son staring toward his white father's village, and he asks True Son whether he wants to go back to Paxton township. True Son says that he does not but that he has left his brother; he tells Half Arrow that they must be brothers now.

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