full title The Light in the Forest
author Conrad Richter
type of work Novel
genre Adventure novel; historical novel; coming-of-age novel; young adult novel
time and place written 1953, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania
date of first publication 1953
publisher Alfred A. Knopf
narrator The author
point of view The narrator speaks in 3rd person omniscient, which means that he explains how various characters think and feel in addition to providing some extra commentary and information regarding their personal history. The narrator mostly focuses on True Son's feelings and thoughts, but he also shows the story through the eyes of other characters, often adopting their language and tone to give us a full perspective on the story.
tone For most of the novel, the narrator manipulates the tone to reflect the feelings and thoughts of the different characters on whom he focuses. However, his overall tone seems to show bias toward the free and natural way of life of the Indians. As True Son falls deeper into trouble the tone of the book also becomes increasingly ominous.
setting (time) 1764–5
setting (place) The Ohio-western Pennsylvania frontier of early America; more specifically the Indian village of Tuscarawas and the white settlement of Paxton township
protagonist True Son (John Cameron Butler)
major conflict There are two major conflicts within this novel: True Son's fight against the restrictive, suffocating customs of his white family, and True Son's internal struggle to find true identity in the face of conflicting loyalties to his Indian family and his white brother Gordie.
rising action True Son's relationship with Gordie; True Son and Half Arrow's attack and scalping of Uncle Wilse; True Son's acceptance to join the Indian war party; True Son's confrontation with his father and Thitpan concerning the scalped white girl; True Son's dream about his white family
climax True Son ruins the Indian war party's ambush attempt
falling action The rest of the war party votes on whether to burn True Son for being a traitor; Cuyloga saves his son from death but takes him to a place where they must part forever; True Son cries out in despair at the loss of his father.
themes Indian freedom versus white civilization; the victimization of children; the struggle for identity and allegiances; the imperfection of both indian and white societies
motifs Nature; point of view and language
symbols Fort Pitt, English clothes, Corn Blade
foreshadowing Bejance's speech about how white culture gradually straps you down; True Son's dream about his white family