In The Light in the Forest, what actions do True Son and the Parson look to in support of their mutual distrust?
When Parson Elder speaks with True Son they discuss why True Son believes that the colonists are the savages, while the colonists claim that the Indians are the savages.
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In their discussion as to why members of the opposing group are looked upon as savages, True Son argues first of all that the white men give rum to the Indians to get them drunk. While the Indian is not in full control of his faculties, he is cheated of his money, furs, and other possessions. He also expresses resentment at the perception that the white man is determined to make the Indian just like him, particularly in the matter of religion. He says that the white man wants "me baptize or pray to (his) God or believe things (he will) be sorry for afterward." To these accusations, Parson Elder responds that, sadly, some white traders most likely do in fact cheat the Indians out of what they have by getting them drunk, but that he himself has never seen it and does not condone it. The Parson goes on to admit that the white man does indeed want the Indian "to believe certain things that are good for (his) soul," and to adopt certain behaviors that are considered righteous, such as obeying his parents, and not lying, stealing, or swearing. True Son retorts that the Indian only swears because he learned to do so from the white man, and then brings up the most damning incident of all, the massacre of Indian children by white Peshtank men. Parson Elder admits the truth of this atrocity, and weakly defends his own efforts to stop it, but then points out that "it's not only the white man who breaks the sixth commandment...evil and ugly things have been committed against the will of God on both sides." The Parson goes on to say how the white men constantly fear that the Indian will come and scalp them and their children, and claims that he knows of many incidents where children were killed and mutilated by Indians. True Son angrily rejoins that the Indian would never do such a thing.
The divide between the Indian and white experience is great. Both sides have been hurt by the other, and both True Son and Parson Elder are skeptical about the truth as it is perceived by the other. The Parson admits that the white man has treated the Indian badly, and both expresses regret and makes excuses; True Son on his part does not believe that the Indian has done anything wrong. In reality, acts of savagery have been committed by both sides, and whether either side is justified in their actions is not considered in this exchange. The mutual distrust between the two groups is not alleviated by this discussion; True Son believes that the Parson is lying about the wrongs committed by his people, and the Parson thinks that, given time, True Son will inevitably accept the white man's ways (Chapter 9).
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