Light in the Forest

Light in the Forest

3.2 82
by Conrad Richter

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Though reared as a Lenni Lenape Indian, fifteen-year-old True Son, once called John Camera Butler, was ordered back to the white man. It was impossible for True Son to believe that his people were white and not Indian. He had learned to hate the white man. And now he learned to hate his new father, his new house, his new family. He hated the name John Butler.


Though reared as a Lenni Lenape Indian, fifteen-year-old True Son, once called John Camera Butler, was ordered back to the white man. It was impossible for True Son to believe that his people were white and not Indian. He had learned to hate the white man. And now he learned to hate his new father, his new house, his new family. He hated the name John Butler. Where did he belong now—and where could he go?|

Editorial Reviews

New York Herald Tribune
A fine and rare experience.
New York Times Book Review
Rebellion, glowing vitality...the spirit of the wild frontier...Absorbing story, marked by Mr. Richter's uncanny skill in recapturing the atmosphere of the past.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Richter's (The Awakening Land) classic tale of a boy torn between families and cultures makes for a compelling audio adaptation. When he was just four years old, John Cameron Butler was captured by the Lenne Lenape Indians. He has since been adopted by the Indians, who named him True Son, and has grown to love the only family he has ever known, as well as the ways of his people. But now it's 1765 and in order to make a land deal, the Lenne Lenape and other tribes have agreed to return all their captives to the white Army, including now-15-year-old True Son/John. When he arrives at the Butler home in Paxton, Pa., True Son chafes at his white family's speech, customs and clothing, acting defiant and depressed. He soon manages (with help from his cousin Half Arrow) a dangerous escape and rejoins his Indian relatives. But once back among his people, True Son commits an act of betrayal that forces the Lenne Lenape to disown him forever, leaving him a young man unsure of where he belongs. Bregy's assured, crisp delivery gives extra resonance to Richter's careful scene-setting, quickly transporting listeners to a distinct, long-ago era. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-A classic in its own right, this novel by Conrad Richter (Knopf, 1953) lends itself well to the dramatic reading by Terry Bregy. John Butler, born in a small frontier town, was captured at age four by the Lenni Lenape Indians and raised by the great warrior, Cuyloga, who named the boy "True Son." He grew up thinking, feeling, and fighting like an Indian. Now rescued and restored to his family because of a treaty to return all white captives to their own people, John Butler rebels against this civilization and desires to return to the tribe. Escaping from the family farm in Pennsylvania, he discovers the eternal and irreconcilable conflict between the two worlds. "True Son"/John Butler asks, "Who am I? Where do I belong?" The narrative reading is replete with emotion; it reflects the harshness and the eloquence of the story as it is revealed. The benefits of listening to this moving tale are many; expression and dramatic reading aid understanding. For a sense of history and a sense of conflict between two different cultures, this novel is a masterpiece by one of America's finest writers. School and public libraries will want to make this a priority purchase.- Patricia Mahoney Brown, Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
From the Publisher
“Rebellion, glowing vitality. . . . The spirit of the wild frontier. . . . An absorbing story, marked by Richter’s uncanny skill in recapturing the atmosphere of the past.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Memorable . . . Richter tells the story with [a] glowing passion for unspoiled nature. . . . It is impossible to doubt the detailed . . . accuracy of the picture.” –New York Herald Tribune

“Good reading for anyone curious about the past of our country.” –The Yale Review

Product Details

Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
Publication date:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The boy was about fifteen years old. He tried to stand very straight and still when he heard the news, but inside of him everything had gone black. It wasn't that he couldn't endure pain. In summer he would put a stone hot from the fire on his flesh to see how long he could stand it. In winter he would sit in the icy river until his Indian father smoking on the bank said he could come out. It made him strong against any hardship that would come to him, his father said. But if it had any effect on this thing that had come to him now, the boy couldn't tell what it was.

For days word had been reaching the Indian village that the Lenni Lenape and Shawanose must give up their white prisoners. Never for a moment did the boy dream that it meant him. Why, he had been one of them since he could remember! Cuyloga was his father. Eleven years past he had been adopted to take the place of a son dead from the yellow vomit. More than once he had been told how, when he was only four years old, his father had said words that took out his white blood and put Indian blood in its place. His white thoughts and meanness had been wiped away and the brave thoughts of the Indian put in their stead. Ever since, he had been True Son, the blood of Cuyloga and flesh of his flesh. For eleven years he had lived here, a native of this village on the Tuscarawas, a full member of the family. Then how could he be torn from his home like a sapling from the ground and given to the alien whites who were his enemy!

The day his father told him, the boy made up his mind. Never would he give up his Indian life. Never! When no one saw him, he crept away from the village. From an old campfire, he blackened his face. Up above Pockhapockink, which means the stream between two hills, he had once found a hollow tree. Now he hid himself in it. He thought only he knew the existence of that tree and was dismayed when his father tracked him to it. It was humiliating to be taken back with his blackened face and tied up in his father's cabin like some prisoner to be burned at the stake. When his father led him out next morning, he knew everybody watched: his mother and sisters, the townspeople, his uncle and aunt, his cousins and his favorite cousin, Half Arrow, with whom he had ever fished, hunted and played. Seldom had they been separated even for a single day.

All morning on the path with his father, crazy thoughts ran like squirrels in the boy's head. Never before had he know his father to be in the wrong. Could it be that he was in the right now? Had he unknowingly left a little white blood in the boy's veins and was it for this that he must be returned? Then they came in sight of the ugly log redoubts and pale tents of the white army, and the boy felt sure there was in his body not a drop of blood that knew these things. At the sight and smells of the white man, strong aversion and loathing came over him. He tried with all his young strength to get away. His father had to hold him hard. In the end he dragged him twisting and yelling over the ground to the council house of the whites and threw him on the leaves that had been spread around.

"I gave talking paper that I bring him," he told the white guards. "Now he belong to you."

It was all over then, the boy knew. He was as good as dead and lay among the other captives with his face down. He was sure that his father had stayed. He could feel his presence and smell the sweet inner bark of the red willow mixed with the dried sumach leaves of his pipe. When dusk fell, a white guard came up. The other soldiers called him Del, perhaps because he could talk Delaware, the strange name the whites gave the Lenni Lenape and their languages. True Son heard Del tell his father that all Indians must be out of the camp by nightfall. From the sounds the boy guessed his father was knocking out his pipe and putting it away. Then he knew he had risen and was standing over him.

"Now go like an Indian, True Son," he said in a low, stern voice. "Give me no more shame."

He left almost at once and the boy heard his footsteps in the leaves. The rustling sound grew farther and farther away. When he sat up, his father was gone. But never before or since was the place his father was going back to so clear and beautiful in the boy's mind. He could see the great oaks and shiver-bark hickories standing over the village in the autumn dusk, the smoke rising from the double row of cabins with the street between, and the shining, white reflection of the sky in the Tuscarawas beyond. Fallen red, brown and golden leaves lay over roofs and bushes, street and forest floor. Tramping through them could be made out the friendly forms of those he knew, warriors and hunters, squaws, and the boys, dogs and girls he had played with. Through the open door of his father's cabin shone the warm red fire with his mother and sisters over it, for this was the beginning of the Month of the First Snow, November. Near the fire heavy bark had been strewn on the ground, and on it lay his familiar bed and the old worn half-grown bearskin he pulled over himself at night. Homesickness overwhelmed him, and he sat there and wept.

After a while he was conscious of eyes upon him. When he looked up, he saw the white guard they called Del, standing there in the dusk that to the Indian is part of the day and part of the night. The white soldier was about twenty years old, with red hair and a hunting shirt of some coarse brownish cloth. The bosom stuck out like a pouch from his belongings carried in it. His belt was tied in the back and his cape fringed with threads that in the daylight were raveled scarlet and green. But what affronted the boy was that the white guard laughed at him.

Instantly True Son turned and lay on his face again. Inside of him hate rose like a poison.

"Once my hands are loose, I'll get his knife," he promised himself. "Then quickly I'll kill him."

Meet the Author

Conrad Richter was born in Pennsylvania, the son, grandson, nephew, and great-nephew of clergymen. He was intended for the ministry, but at thirteen he declines a scholarship and left preperatory school for high school, from which he graduated at fifteen. After graduation, he went to work. His family on his mother's side was identified with the early American scene, and from boyhood on he was saturated with tales and the color of Eastern pioneer days. In 1928 he and his small family moved to New Mexico, where his heart and mind were soon caputred by the Southwest. From this time on he devoted himself to fiction. The Sea of Grass and The Trees were awarded the gold medal of the Societies of Libraries of New York University in 1942. The Town received the Pulitzer Prize in 1951, and The Waters of Kronos won the 1960 National Book Award for fiction. His other novels included The Fields (1946), The Lady (1957), A Simple Honorable Man (1962), The Grandfathers (1964), A Country of Strangers (1966; a companion to The Light in the Forest), and The Aristocrat, published just before his death in 1968.

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Light in the Forest 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book had alot of adventure. the only thing is was that it was sad. the indian boy got taken away from his tribe. this was sad because he had een with the indians for so long they were his family and no one was gong to take thatr away from him thats for sure.this book is good but i loved the adventure but nt so much the sadeness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some parts are interesting while other parts are very boring. My whole grade had to read this book...during class I found myself not paying attention. The ending is the most interesting part. The beginning for me was hard to understand until later in the book and I got most of it. Overall, it's an okay book. I wouldn't really reccomend it for someone, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this in my GT class in school (6th Grade). I think this is an awesome book so far. I highly recommend this to everyone! This book has incredible literature and so far its has made a change in how I see life or in other words my perspective in life. Conrad Richter as many of you know is an INCREDIBLE author and probably gave the best classic read I have had in a long time so, thank you Conrad! This is a story for ALL ages... but, I would recommend to wait until 10-12 for the reason of some referments such as scalping and tomahawked and other killing words. Otherwise, totally worth buying!!!!! :) PLEASE READ!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not for you if you like fast moving plots. This book takes it time and really explores the relationship between whites and indians from both prospectives. The writer really makes you think about human relationships between races and family ties on both sides, and proves family ties can be difficult no matter if the people are black, white, red hispanic .
cheese27 More than 1 year ago
Intresting, the beggining was hard to understand and had no plot what so ever. The middle to ABOUT the end the book wasn't hlf bad. At the ending the protagonist does the right thing and suffers for it . At the end he is kicked out of his indian tribe and disowned by his fake family and now he is in the wild somewhere probaly to get eaten by a bear very soon! This book is a DO NOT BUY. This could be a stocking stuffer for someone you dispise or a christmas grab bag gift. I would probaly have read a book about lamas taking a dump!
bulldog31 More than 1 year ago
This book was about a boy named John Cameron Butler.John is a white boy.His adopted father is a great Indian warrior.He named his adopted son,True Son.True son grew up to think,feel,and fight like a true indian.When True Son turned fifteen he had to go back to the white man.He loved to be an indian.He didnt wont to go back.This would be a great book to read to little kids about whites and Indians.
hunter19 More than 1 year ago
This book was a pretty good book ,but the middle seems like it goes on forever. The books ending was realy suprising. Overall this is a real good book for a person who like adventure such as my self. The book is a book any body that like a good imagination should read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this for an English assignment, and surprisingly I actually liked it! The book lets you into the feelings between the whites and the Indians. I would have never thought about reading this if it weren't for my project. This book is great if you want to know about what the realtionship was like between the Indians and whites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a very good book with well devoloped characters. It is a good historical fiction book for almost all ages. The story is about a 15 year old Indian captive that is returned to his white family. The main character is well devoloped and you can really get a good idea on how he feels and reacts to different situations without becoming too predictible. Conrad Richter keeps a good plot line and setting. The only thing that I found to be a little bit confusing is the way some of the sentences are written. They sometimes seem to end before he is done actully explaining. He keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. The overall story is well written and devoloped. It is a good historical fiction book that shows how it must of felt for the true captives that were being taken away from their families.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My whole grade has to read this book. At first i thought it was interesting but, the middle gets a little too descriptive and boring. During the end it gets real good and emotional. Thats where the climax is... :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. My whole class read it for a book report. My whole class loved I recommed this book to everybody! it is amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[Okay. And me either so it's okay anyways.] She padded to her den. <p> OOC - I am grounded from my NOOK for a week! I'm sorry :( But I'll be back! Please advertise and keep Forestclan alive until I am back! Thank you all sooo much! <p> &hearts , Leafstar
JanieAslan More than 1 year ago
I read this book many years ago and, while in the process of doing some historical research, I was reminded of the family that was highlighted in this book. If you like early American history of much of Pennsylvania, this book is well worth reading again.
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