The Light in the Forest

The Light in the Forest

3.2 82
by Conrad Richter, Warren Chappell

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When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier and adopted by the great warrrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian. But eleven years later his tribe, the Lenni Lenape, has signed a treaty with the white men and agreed to return their captives, including fifteen-year-old True Son. Now

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When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier and adopted by the great warrrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian. But eleven years later his tribe, the Lenni Lenape, has signed a treaty with the white men and agreed to return their captives, including fifteen-year-old True Son. Now he must go back to the family he has forgotten, whose language is no longer his, and whose ways of dress and behavior are as strange to him as the ways of the forest are to them. A beautifully written, sensitively told story of a white boy brought up by Indians, The Light in the Forest is a beloved American classic.

Editorial Reviews

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

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.|

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Everyman's Library Children's Classics Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 6.23(h) x 0.61(d)
Age Range:
4 - 12 Years

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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."

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