The Light in the Forest

by: Conrad Richter

Important Quotations Explained

When you put these on, will you give me your Indian clothes, True Son? … Then I can be an Indian.

Gordie asks this of True Son in Chapter 6 as he and True Son walk to their rooms on the first night after True Son's arrival. True Son has been given English clothes to wear, and he cannot imagine putting them on since to him they represent the evil ways of the whites. Although he does not respond in words or actions to Gordie's comment, True Son seems to understand his brother for a moment. Gordie is the only white who does not judge True Son for his strange, Indian ways. On the contrary, Gordie emulates his older brother; he embraces the Indian culture that so disgusts his family. This quote sums up Gordie's feelings about True Son and represents the first time True Son truly connects with his brother, or any white for that matter, on an equal, respectful level. Their burgeoning relationship will have a profound effect on the decisions True Son makes once he returns to his Indian family later in the novel. Gordie is a child, and the only white for which True Son has compassion; he cannot bear to think of Gordie's life endangered by the war between whites and Indians.

The innocence captured in Gordie's words also expresses the one hope we see for acceptance and brotherhood on the part of the white race. Gordie is oblivious to the concerns of his white relatives; he does not view the Indians as evil or savage. Richter demonstrates the tragic effect that frontier life had on innocent children. Kids were not born with feelings of hatred toward other races, yet they became victims of racial violence and eventually learned how to hate.