Themes and Characters
The Light in the Forest involves two sets of characters: the Native Americans and their enemies, the white settlers of Pennsylvania. The believable characters possess human strengths and weaknesses, and Richter's omniscient narrator presents each of their perspectives without making explicit judgments. Each group harbors stereotyped perceptions of the other. To the white settlers, the Native Americans are ignorant savages who steal, swear, and cheat; the Native Americans, for their part, consider the whites a "mixed people," heedless and immature as children, who heap up material treasures and steal the Native American land. For each Native American character, Richter creates a white one who represents an opposing way of looking at the same situation.
True Son, the central character, crosses into the worlds of both the Native Americans and the whites. Richter compassionately and sensitively presents his dilemma at being forcibly returned to his white parents after eleven years. Love and loyalty for his Native American parents and upbringing make True Son tolerate the daily humiliations of living in the alien white culture with dignity and restraint. True Son is a complex character who grows and changes as he tries to find his true identity in the midst of two cultures. His brief stay with his white family creates inevitable conflicts in him; he grows critical of the Lenni Lenape for scalping a white child to avenge the murder of Little Crane. True...
(The entire section is 1035 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Light in the Forest Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!