The Light in the Forest By Conrad Richter Summary and Analysis Chapter 3

Summary

Having waited three days, Colonel Bouquet's expedition leaves the camp on the fourth day and marches east, toward Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. In a typical adolescent fantasy, True Son thinks of gaining his Lenni Lenape tribe's admiration by committing suicide rather than returning to the white world. He makes three attempts to dig up poisonous roots and eat them, but he fails each time because Del keeps him tethered and carefully guarded.

True Son's cousin, Half Arrow, follows the expedition and reveals himself to True Son, but he stays hidden from the white soldiers because he's afraid that they will shoot him. Another friend, Little Crane, accompanies his white wife on the journey. By noon, True Son has given up thoughts of suicide. Half Arrow shares True Son's bread and a portion of the white man's beef. To ease their final parting, Half Arrow offers farewell gifts to True Son: parched corn, moccasins made by True Son's mother and sisters, and True Son's bearskin bed covering.

Analysis

To enhance the drama of True Son's forced march through the forest, Richter describes the woods and all of nature as being sympathetic to True Son's plight. Nature shares True Son's sorrow. The morning is gray, and an ancient sycamore tree that stands at the fork in the trail is divided into contrasting symbolic halves: A dead limb points toward the white world and a live branch toward the Lenni Lenape village.

True Son's comment that the white soldiers haven't killed Little Crane, who's accompanying his white wife as far as the soldiers will let him, is ironic and hints at what will happen in Chapter 10. However, the reader's attention is centered mostly on the sprightly chatter of Half Arrow, the one bright spot on this most dismal day of True Son's life.

In this chapter, we experience Indian humor as Half Arrow and True Son smile and joke with each other. The many false stereotypes of Indians does not include them as smiling or sharing humor, but True Son and Half Arrow have inside jokes between them. Later in the novel, this difference between Indian and white-man humor provides another point of contention between True Son and his white family.

Glossary

Yengwes (yeeng wees) a native pronunciation of "English" and likely forerunner of the word "Yankee."

May apple an important purgative and liver cleanser among native American herbs. The fruit is edible, but the roots are poisonous.

Bouquet Henry Bouquet (1719-65), a native of Berne, Switzerland, and a lieutenant colonel of the Royal American Regiment from 1754 to 1764. His authoritative account of the expedition against the Ohio Indians was published in Philadelphia in 1765 and in London in 1766.

leggings leg covers made of tanned animal skin to protect the wearer from cold or nettlesome underbrush. Unlike chaps, they shield the entire leg, including the calf and thigh.

breech clout a loincloth worn by native American males to protect the genitals. The garment is made from a single length of leather, skin, or fabric a foot wide and four to six feet long. After it is secured in front by a belt, it is passed between the legs and looped over the back section. Loose ends, either fringed or decorated with quills of stitchery, hang in front and back.

strouding a wool blanket worn as a cloak.

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