Forrest Carter is best known for writing The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales, but The Education of Little Tree, an autobiographical account of growing up in the hills with his Cherokee grandparents, is often considered his best work. Set in the 1930s Depression era, The Education of Little Tree speaks to the universal experience of growing up in a sometimes hostile world. It was published in 1977 and received the Abby Award in 1991. This book has received much criticism for not being factually accurate; however, it is based on real people and experiences. Forrest Carter died in 1979.
Forrest’s parents are both gone by the time he is five years old, which is how he comes to live with his grandparents. The rest of the family makes a fuss, but the young boy finds his tall, half-Cherokee grandfather in the crowd at the funeral and will not let go of his leg. Granpa and Granma (a full-blooded Cherokee) take him home despite family objections. They ride the bus (amid mocking) to the base of the mountain and have to walk the rest of the way. Granpa slows his stride so the boy can keep up, and Granma hums a comforting Indian song so the boy feels safe. Ol’ Maud, a baying hound who has no sense of smell, greets them along with a pack of other dogs. The cabin is warm and comfortable. As Forrest prepares to sleep, Granma sings him an Indian song in which all living things welcome Little Tree to his new home. The boy knows he is Little Tree and he is loved and wanted. He sleeps and does not cry.
It takes Granma a week of evenings to make his boot moccasins, and he puts them on this morning along with his overalls, for Granpa said he could go with him to the high trail if he got up on his own. Granpa did talk unusually loud and bump hard against his wall, but the boy is sure he would have woken up anyway. The journey is pleasant and Little Tree feels the earth beneath him like a living thing. When they reach the turkey run, he helps Granpa prepare the trap, and then they sit and wait. Granpa says the land is coming alive. Little Tree agrees; he knows he and his grandfather have an understanding that most folks do not have. As they wait, a hawk descends and kills a quail. Granpa explains that is “The Way.” It is all part of the life cycle, and each is to take only what he needs. Never take the best. When six turkeys are caught in the trap, Little Tree is told to...
(The entire section is 3931 words.)
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After his parents die, a young boy called Little Tree is raised by his Cherokee grandparents in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee during the 1930s. The novel follows Little Tree's daily life as he helps his grandparents learn to stand up for their rights, and in the process he learns a great deal about standing up for his own. As the novel progresses, Little Tree describes the simple life lessons he learns by living in touch with Nature.
(The entire section is 78 words.)