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The Light in the Forest

Chapters 13–14

Summary Chapters 13–14

As the war party marches off together singing war songs, True Son feels a "savage sweetness" he has never experienced before; he sees red and everything seems to be covered with blood. Thitpan chooses Disbeliever to be the guide for the group. At one point the group divides into two groups: one including Cuyloga and Thitpan that marches south toward white cabins and another including the boys that marches farther along the path.

Later that day, once the two parties have met up again, True Son notices with a chill that Thitpan is carrying the scalp of a white child. That night the warriors go over every aspect of their plan for ambush, in which True Son is going to lure a white boat toward the shore. The boys watch as the scalps are stretched out and sewed onto red hoops. As he thinks of the girl's scalp, True Son tries to forget that he had told his white mother the Indians did not kill children. Before he goes to sleep he asks his father whether the white children are the enemies of Indians too. Cuyloga does not reply and looks at True Son as if he has had nothing to do with what happened. Thitpan responds, however, saying that the children are enemies and pointing out that Little Crane was practically a child when he was killed. When True Son says that he is sorry and that he did not know the Indians fought children, the rest of the party seems resentful. Thitpan replies that he does not fight children but that it was easier for him to scalp the child than to take her as prisoner.

That night True Son dreams for the first time about his white family. In the dream it is winter, and his white family is hunting for him in a sled. Suddenly the snow turns to water and their sled turns into a boat and for the first time True Son realizes that a frightened child is on the boat with his white mother. He wakes up in a sweat.

In the morning True Son is given ill-fitting white clothes to wear (he suspects that they belonged to the scalped white girl) and is instructed to wade out into the river when a boat comes. For three days they wait until Disbeliever finally sees that a boat is coming. True Son goes out into the river and calls out to the people on board for help. He says that he cannot swim, and they must come save him from starvation. At first the men are suspicious, but finally a woman on board convinces them to save True Son. As the boat comes closer, True Son sees that there is a boy about Gordie's age on the boat, and he stops calling out. He thinks of his dream and begins to wonder if his white family is on the boat; all he can think about is Gordie being killed by the Indians. Suddenly he cries out, telling the whites "take him back! It's an ambush!"

In panic the startled whites move the boat farther away from the back. The Indians rush out of the bushes shooting at the boat, but they are largely unsuccessful because of the distance.

Analysis

The time True Son and Half Arrrow spend together in the wilderness marks their last adventure as children free from the war between whites and Indians. When they are together as brothers enjoying a simple existence in nature, they do not have to think about the consequences of their actions. As True Son points out, they finally have control over their lives. At no other point in the book does the Indian country appear more inviting; Richter devotes many lines of imagery to the boys' beautiful and liberating surroundings. He seems to imply that this is the way we are meant to live: free and at peace with our friends and nature.