The Light in the Forest, by Conrad Richter, is about a boy named John Butler who was captured by the Indians in the midst of a raid when he was a little boy. He was renamed True Son by his Indian father, Cuyloga, and grows up as one of the Indians and is treated like he truly is one. True Son learns that it is difficult to be in two cultures at once, to be a white boy and Indian all in one.
In the story, True Son gets word that the English people want their children back eleven years later. True Son does not want to go, but is forced to by the English people. Along the way his cousin Half Arrow decides to follow him to keep him company. He also delivers gifts from True Son’s Indian father. Half Arrow plans to follow True Son, but the English people say that he cannot any more.
True Son is brought to his parents, but he is not happy about it. He rebels and even tries to escape at one point, but he is forced to stay.
Half Arrow and his friend, Little Crane, come to find True Son and help him escape into the woods. Little Crane was killed by a white man, and True Son flees with Half Arrow. They find a small clearing in the woods with a river and plenty of fish. They stay for a long time, fishing and exploring. When they finally go back True Son’s Indian family rejoices. But as for the Indian Little Crane who died, his family did not join in. They convince others to strike back against the English people in revenge for their lost member. Others agree, and True Son joins them.
On the way the other Indians see that True Son had been tainted by the white people, and that he was not the same. When True Son tries to lure a boat from the river in so that the other Indians can shoot it, he hesitates and the boat gets away. True Son’s own Indian father decided that he must go back to the English, because he was not a true Indian anymore.
This book was interesting to me because I have never experienced being a part of two cultures with different beliefs that conflicted with each other. I enjoyed the book up until the end, when he was forced to go back to the English people. I loved the fact that he was an Indian struggling to survive in the English culture, but disliked that the English people would not accept him as an Indian even though he was still their kid.
The Light in the Forest