Study Help Essay Questions


1. Contrast True Son's plight at a crossroads between two cultures with that of either Art Croft in Walter Van Tilburg Clark's The Ox-Bow Incident, the sole surviving tribesman in Theodora Kroeber's Ishi: Last of His Tribe, or the moral statelessness in Edward Everett Hale's The Man Without a Country.

2. Summarize rugged elements of westward expansion in Richter's book that parallel similar details in Mari Sandoz's Cheyenne Autumn, O. E. Rölvaag's Giants in the Earth, Hamlin Garland's Main-Travelled Roads, Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, and Johan Bojer's The Emigrants.

3. Contrast True Son's experiences with those of a real kidnap victim in Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary White Rowlandson or of fictional female captives in Janice Holt Giles' Hannah Fowler, Scott O'Dell's Sing Down the Moon, or Caroline Gordon's "The Captive."

4. Research the military service of Lt. Col. Henry Bouquet from 1764-65 — at the end of Pontiac's Rebellion — when Bouquet distributed smallpox-infected blankets to natives living near Fort Pitt. How did he influence the reclamation of former captives from the Lenni Lenape?

5. Write a short essay in which you discuss whether Richter sides in favor of the Indians or the whites in the novel.

6. Compare True Son's two fathers — Cuyloga and Mr. Butler — in terms of sternness, love, loyalty, and compassion.

7. Discuss the effect of naming elements of nature — for example, Chingokhos, the big-eared owl — in the novel. How does Richter's personification of plants and animals enhance his fiction?

8. Compare Richter's lyrical description of the wild forest with those of John Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra. Discuss how the two writers describe the joys of freedom in unclaimed, untrampled land.

9. Compare the final paragraphs of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee with the irony of the Conestogo massacre in a Lancaster refuge on Christmas. Comment on the native American ridicule of whites who claim to be Christians yet murder and pillage defenseless Indians.

10. Compare Colonel/Parson Elder's role in the Peshtanks to Cuyloga's role in Thitpan's war party. What is the nature of mob mentality, and what is each person's responsibility within it?