In The Light In the Forest, what is the significance of Bejance in the story?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Bejance is a black man, a slave who lives alone in a log cabin in the woods, known for his skill in making baskets. When Bejance was a child, he, like True Son, was captured and raised by Indians, and while in his teens, he was taken back from the Indians by a Pennsylvania captain, who kept him as a slave.

Bejance is significant for two other reasons. First of all, he confirms what True Son already suspects, that living the life of the white man is akin to slavery. Bejance says that all white men are enslaved by their own aspirations, becoming landowners, paying taxes, working the soil endlessly by day. He says,

"Piece by piece you get broke in to livin' in a stall by night, and by day pullin' burdens that mean nothin' to the soul inside of you."

Looking back upon his life from the vantage point of eighty-four years, Bejance believes that the best time of his life was when he lived among the Indians, and he longs for

"...the brightest piece...when (he) ran free in the woods...it had a glory (he) ain't seen since."

The second reason Bejance is significant is because he tells True Son about an old Indian who still lives in the area and who speaks the Lenape language. His name is Corn Blade, he lives up on the mountain, and Bejance thinks he is a hundred years old. Once True Son hears about the old Indian, it is all he can think about; True Son misses his home and his people, and he feels that the sight of any Indian face, even Corn Blade's, would do him good (Chapter 8).

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