What is the importance of the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter of The Education of Little Tree?

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Well, there aren't excerpts at the start of each chapter. There is a song or chant quoted between the second and third chapter. That one links the story to older traditions (Cherokee), and sets the tone. Other chapters start with references to the key themes contained in them, or quote sections of key dialogue as their titles. Those give the theme or topic of the chapter, much like any title. Most chapters, though, don't start with excerpts.

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