Summary and Analysis Chapter 8



When True Son rejects the donated clothing, Mr. Butler sends him to his room, where he remains for several days. Peter Wormley, a tailor, arrives to measure the boy for new outfits; Andy Goff fits him with boots. True Son despises the cumbersome clothing of whites, especially the shoes, and reverts to wearing moccasins. Finally, Aunt Kate takes away his moccasins and his Indian clothing so that if he wants to leave his room at all, he has no option but to wear his "prisoner garb." He resents his reading and writing lessons, hates attending church every Sunday, and ponders the white man's limited understanding of the Great Spirit. He takes heart on an errand to the cabin of Bejance, an old black man who now makes baskets for a living, but who learned to love the woods while growing up among the Wyandotte. True Son longs to speak the Indian language, but the old man recalls only the words for "friend," "Who are you?" "yes," and "no." He tells True Son about a man named Corn Blade, an elderly Lenape-speaker living atop Third Mountain to protect himself from the Paxton Boys, a group of Paxton men known for killing Indians.

In late winter, homesickness overtakes True Son, whose mind sadly dwells on the foods of home and the faces of his Indian mother and sisters. During the first warm days of spring, he and Gordie take Dock, the horse that True Son rode from Carlisle, and set out to locate Corn Blade. However, Mr. Butler, Uncle Wilse, and a farmer named Neal overtake the two boys near the narrows of the Susquehanna. Wilse accuses True Son of lying and stealing. Mr. Butler makes no effort to stop Wilse's ranting at True Son and determines to watch the boys more carefully.


True Son surprises himself by missing Del, whose departure leaves the boy with no one who speaks Lenni Lenape. Left wordless, he has no choice but to use the English language to communicate.

True Son also reflects again about the Great Spirit and what role the Spirit played in returning him to his white family. Note the similarity between Kringas' counsel to "never think that the Great Spirit forgets you" and the rest of his discourse and current Christian theology on God's mysterious ways and man's need to recognize his total dependence on God. Whites and Indians unconsciously share many religious beliefs, but they put them into practice so differently that they see no relationship between the Great Spirit and the Christian God and thus no spiritual kinship with each other.

On the return ride to Paxton after being caught by Mr. Butler, Wilse, and the Paxton farmer, True Son's thoughts are about what he will not see rather than about what he does see. He loses "all the precious beckoning things ahead . . . the unseen valleys, the unforded streams, the untrodden forest and the great shaggy, unclimbed mountains." However, he fantasizes that the mountains want to shove the whites into the river and partly regains his pride.


millstone a great disk of stone that rotates against a paired stone to grind grain that trickles through a central hole into the space between.

Great Spirit an English term for the Indians' creator and ruler of the universe. The Indian god reveals himself in nature. Alternately identified as Manitou, Wakan Tanka, and the All-Father, he is uniformly accepted and revered through ritual prayers and a respectful oneness with the universe, a symbol of permanence.

Wyandotte (wy uhn daht) also known as the Huron, a tribe of woodsmen, hunters, farmers, and traders of the Iroquois nation who once inhabited Ontario and the north-central plains states.

bark-flags rectangles of birch bark that naturally sloughs off the trunk. Bark plays an important role in the novel. Young Johnny was making a bark playhouse when he was kidnapped. The makeshift structure prefigures, or hints at, the bark village that becomes True Son's home. Later, Richter refers to a curly birch rifle, a weapon bearing a stock carved from a variety of birch that sheds thin strips of bark in gracefully fluted rectangles.