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The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
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The Light in the Forest (original 1953; edition 2005)

by Conrad Richter

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1,156137,032 (3.43)49
Member:foggidawn
Title:The Light in the Forest
Authors:Conrad Richter
Info:Everyman's Library (2005), Hardcover, 176 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:JFIC, classic

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The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter (1953)

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The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter. Epiphany-OviedoELCA library section 12 D: Teen, Fiction. This short novel is a gem. The setting is around 1800 in central Pennsylvania. “True Son” is a white boy kidnapped at age 4 by the Lenni Lenape Indians to adopt and raise as their own. He does not remember his white parents; in fact, he has developed a prejudice for all things white. The day comes when all white captives must be returned to their original families, including True Son.
He is reclaimed, kicking and screaming, by his white parents at the rendezvous, and he lives with them for some time. White houses feel like prisons. White clothes are too constricting. Shoes made by a cobbler feel heavy and hard as rocks compared to pliable moccasins. He discovers that most of the white people, including his relatives, are prejudiced toward the Indians due to frontier killings, and they do not trust True Son. He begins to see the white people’s side of the story.
You will have to read the book to find out what happens to True Son. I put it in the teen section, not because it is a long or difficult book, but because of the Native American words which may make the book slower going for younger readers. The freedom of living in the forest as a Native American is so well-expressed, so close to nature. You really feel as if you are walking along Indian trails in the primeval forest of the New World. Richter writes so well about the Colonial culture from the viewpoint of a young Native American who finds himself in a situation he hate,s among people he fears and despises. The most important thing about this book is that it points out that anyone can be prejudiced. Anyone can be swayed by hatred to commit violence. It is only the wise who listen to all sides, who find the peaceful middle path. This is a lesson for every person in every age.
This novel was made into a Disney film in 1958, starring James MacArthur as True Son, Fess Parker as a scout, and Wendell Corey, Jessica Tandy, Carol Lynley, and one of my fave actresses of all time, Dorothy McGuire. It can be found in its entirety in English (though the youtube title is in Spanish) at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prf25cHiQB4
I wish good family entertainment based on American history like this were still made for today’s generation of youngsters. Conrad Richter also wrote Northwest Passage and The Awakening Land trilogy: The Trees, The Fields and The Town. These are classic novels about colonial America. Great escapist summer reading! ( )
2 vote Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Dec 27, 2011 |
True Son had been born into a frontier family, but all he could remember, all that he loved, was Native American. Now, at fifteen, he was ordered to go back to the white man, whom he had learned to hate. Where did he belong--and where could he go?.
Lexile: 870 [view chart]
  211Fern | Jan 11, 2011 |
This novel by Conrad Richter tells the story of a boy who was captured and raised by Indians and then must be returned to his white family due to a treaty. The boy has been with the Indians long enough that he has forgotten his white family and would rather stay with his Indian family. His adopted father, a warrior of honor, forces him to leave.

He is marched across the frontier and returned to his family who appear to have little sympathy for what this boy is going through. They just want him to be white and fit in, but don’t take the time to help him make this transition. Eventually he runs away and tries to return to the wilderness.

A interesting story of frontier life in Pennsylvania and of a boy that ultimately fits into neither world yet must try and find a place for himself. A rather sad story, but it certainly makes you think about how things haven’t really changed all that much, different is still unacceptable to many. ( )
2 vote DeltaQueen50 | Aug 21, 2010 |
Wonderful book! it beautifully depicts the clash between two cultures and the heartbreaking consequences of two cultures that are unable to understand and respect their differences. ( )
  TiffanyHickox | Feb 24, 2010 |
In response to Brandon Warburtons review - which was quite comprehensive - I would like to add that there appears to me to be many contemporary parallels within this novel. The most obvious would be the divided family, fractured by divorce. Children growing up now often are forced to deal with divorce. Often the child is asked to abandon loyalty to one parent to earn the favor of the other parent. The having to choose sides forced on 'True Son' is most relevant.

I find Richter's ability to present the 'good' and the 'bad' of both the Indian culture and the white culture as most remarkable. This novel is a morsel that tempted me to read more of Richter. If one goes on to read other of Conrad Richter's historical novels, one can gain quite a new perspective on the history of our nation in light of the Indian/White conflicts. ( )
  Joanne45 | Feb 20, 2010 |
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Epigraph
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows
He sees it in his joy.
Wordsworth
Dedication
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The boy was about 15 years old.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
"True Son," born John Butler in a little frontier town, was captured by the Lenni Lenape Indians when he was four years old, and adopted into the tribe by the great warrior Cuyloga who re-named him and reared him as his own. True Son grew up to think, feel, and flight like an Indian, in reverence to their God.

Then the Indians made a treaty and agreed to return all white captives to their own people...but true Son had learned to hate all white men -

The Light in the Forest, with all its harshness and violence, is a moving and beautiful story, eloquently told by one of America's finest writers -
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449704378, Mass Market Paperback)

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?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:40 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

As part of an agreement to keep peace, whites are insisting that captives who have been living with the Indians be returned to their white settlements. True True Son, fifteen years old, has lived with the Delaware tribe since being captured as a baby.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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