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The Light in the Forest

Chapters 13–14

Summary Chapters 13–14

However, when the boys return to Tuscarawas as "men," they must face the reality of war. Although the women of the village sense that the boys are still too young to face battle, their actions against Uncle Wilse and their friendship with Little Crane have already put them intimately involved with the battle between whites and Indians. Although True Son feels like a proud, strong, and independent warrior as he marches off to fight, we soon realize that he has once again lost control of his life. Appropriately enough, True Son acts as the bait to lure in the whites. Whereas before he was controlled by the white soldiers and restrictions of Paxton Township, he now serves as a pawn for the Indians.

When True Son learns that Thitpan and some of the other Indians have scalped young white children, he is clearly disillusioned by the Indian people he has forever seen as perfect. One of True Son's main grievances with Uncle Wilse is that he brutally killed the innocent Conestoga children and True Son's peaceful friend Little Crane. Now it appears as if Thitpan is not better than Uncle Wilse. Although True Son accepts the explanation of his friend's brother, he begins to doubt the faultlessness of the Indians and feels badly for having lied to his mother and Parson Elder. We understand that this is another point at which True Son is forced to grow up and accept the reality of his world. As Parson Elder told him months before, the war between the Indians and the whites is not a cut and dry battle between good and evil. Both sides have committed horrible deeds, and we begin to see this more and more as the actions of the war party parallel those of the ruthless Paxton boys.

The overall effect of True Son's confusing life with both Indians and whites culminates in the statement, "Take him back! It's an ambush!", which is the climax (the point in which the conflict of the book reaches its height) of the novel. Although True Son still identifies only with his Indian family, he cannot deny the bond of brotherhood he has established with his brother Gordie. True Son still holds to his father's belief that it is cowardly to kill children. When he learns that white children may be victims of the war party's ambush, he becomes so worried that he dreams his parents and frightened brother are on the ambushed boat. True Son cannot imagine Gordie being the victim of atrocity, and this brotherly compassion is enough to cloud his Indian warrior way of thinking at a point when it is most crucially needed. The statement is significant not only because it demonstrates True Son's one link to the white race, but also because it represents an act of betrayal against his Indian brothers. By showing allegiance to the whites, True Son has single-handedly ruined the ambush, an unforgivable action that betrays the Indian principle of loyalty and courage.