The Light in the Forest | Study Guide

Conrad Richter

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The Light in the Forest | Chapter 12 | Summary



This chapter is told from True Son's perspective.

True Son wakes up outside feeling free. Then he remembers that he and Half Arrow will be punished by the white townspeople if they're caught. He awakens Half Arrow, who is overjoyed to learn that True Son is coming back with him to the Lenni Lenape. Though True Son is glad to leave, he will miss his young white brother, Gordie.

They travel, listening for white settlers in pursuit. When they pass a white colony, Half Arrow curses and wishes he could kill them. The path they take was created by Indians, but the friends don't see a single Indian on the trail.

Finally, they arrive at a river Half Arrow calls the Alleghi Sipu—Allegheny River. This river will take them to the Forks of the Muskingum. Half Arrow wants to steal a trader's boat to cross. When True Son is reluctant to take the boat, Half Arrow reminds him that white people have taken land and happiness from Indians.

After some careful planning, they steal the boat and cross the river. When they reach Fort Pitt, True Son remembers the last time he passed the fort as a captive. Now he is free.


True Son knows his attack on Uncle Wilse was a permanent decision to leave Paxton Township. Moreover, he's initially relieved to join in Half Arrow's contempt for white people and their corrupt concern for war and money.

But True Son is more cautious around white people than he once was. In Chapter 1 he considered killing Del, the British soldier. Now he knows how eager white people are for vengeance and how protective they are of their property. When he discourages Half Arrow from stealing the trader's boats, his concerns are practical rather than moral. He knows there will be consequences if they are caught. Still, he respects the concept of objects belonging to someone, indicating he's changed more than he realizes.

He also discovers that Gordie means something to him as family. Gordie admires True Son, giving him a sense of self and authority in a place where he felt he had neither. Just as True Son replaced Cuyloga's dead child in Lenni Lenape tradition, he replaces Gordie with Half Arrow. The regret at leaving Gordie foreshadows the climax in the narrative, when True Son's loyalties will be tested.

Through True Son's observations, Richter tells a larger story about changes in the landscape. When white colonizers claim land, they push Indian tribes further west. As Half Arrow and True Son walk through the mountain gap, they notice the difference: the tribes have disappeared. Richter gives readers a glimpse into the long-term damage of colonization to Indian lives and communities.

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