The Light in the Forest

by: Conrad Richter

True Son

Characters True Son

The protagonist of the story, True Son, or John Cameron Butler, is a fifteen-year-old white boy who has been raised by a tribe of Delaware Indians for the past eleven years of his life. In the beginning of the novel, True Son is forced to return to the white family from which he was kidnapped. However, the boy considers himself to be a full-blooded Indian and is horrified by the prospect of living with the "evil" whites. True Son loves his Indian family and especially idolizes his father, Cuyloga; throughout the novel he tries to follow Cuyloga's example of strength, patience, and stoicism. But as a rebellious and passionate teenager who has not yet completely grown up, True Son often finds his attempts complicated by rash decisions. Like his Uncle Wilse, True Son is very opinionated and stubborn, and he will act out violently if provoked. Once he is back at Paxton township for the first time in years, True Son vehemently rejects the restrictive white civilization and its people; the only family member he develops a compassionate relationship with is his innocent younger brother Gordie. As Del Hardy points out, True Son's name is ironic since he completely refuses to accept his true white family. However, as time goes on True Son becomes more accustomed to the ways of white people. The loyalty he feels toward his brother Gordie eventually leads him to betray his Indian brothers, leaving him stranded without a father or identity.