The Light in the Forest

by: Conrad Richter

Symbols

Main ideas Symbols

Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt, the farthest west outpost of the white soldiers, represents several different ideas for both Del Hardy and True Son. When True Son first lays eyes upon Fort Pitt in Chapter 5, he feels suffocated by the gloomy, dark structure. He views the establishment as an ugly example of the restrictive white culture. On the other hand, Del Hardy sees Fort Pitt as a comforting and striking example of the superior and powerful products of white civilization. As he returns home in Chapter 12, however, True Son views the image of Fort Pitt as a sign of his triumph over the whites. Fort Pitt is the last sign of white civilization before True Son's beloved in Indian country.

English Clothes

When True Son is presented with English clothes for the first time, he is filled with revulsion. To him, the clothes symbolize the lying, deceitful, and murderous ways of white people; he refuses to put them on since they are the sign of his enemies. Later, when True Son is forced to wear the clothes, he feels imprisoned by them and refers to them as "prisoner's garb." Forcing people to wear English clothes is one of the ways in which the whites gradually make outsiders conform to their culture. The clothes are particularly vile to True Son because they cause other people to identify him as a regular white boy as opposed to the Indian he identifies as himself. When True Son is finally able to slip into his old Indian clothes in Chapter 12, he feels liberated from the bonds of white culture. However, he is later forced to wear English clothes again during the Indians' attempt to ambush the white boat of settlers. After betraying the Indians, True Son begins to take off the wet garments, but he is told to leave them on since they can no longer identify him as an Indian. In the end, the white clothes symbolize True Son's disloyalty and his return to the restricting world of the whites.

Corn Blade

When True Son first learns from Bejance about the existence of Corn Blade, he is filled with hope and determination. The Lenni Lenape speaking Indian represents what True Son believes to be his last hope in connecting to his Indian culture while living amongst the whites. For months, the hope of meeting Corn Blade is what keeps True Son's spirit alive; he yearns to converse with the last Lenni Lenape speaking person in the area. When True Son's attempt to reach Corn Blade fails and when he learns that Corn Blade is dead, we see True Son's spirit decline as well. Corn Blade thus comes to symbolize True Son's unattainable dream of freedom.