What causes the points on the trees in The Sign of the Beaver?

The points on the tree in The Sign of the Beaver are made by the turtle tribe, as a way of demarcating their hunting lands. Thanks to seeing the points, Attean knows that, as a member of the beaver tribe, he cannot touch the injured animal.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The answer to your question comes in chapter 13, when Matt and Attean are in the woods and find a fox who has been caught in a leg trap, but is still alive. Attean points out the cruelty of the trap and tells Matt that it is a "white man's...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The answer to your question comes in chapter 13, when Matt and Attean are in the woods and find a fox who has been caught in a leg trap, but is still alive. Attean points out the cruelty of the trap and tells Matt that it is a "white man's trap," which means that a white man had designed the trap and paid Native American to set it.

While Matt wants to help the fox, Attean tells him that they cannot, because it is on the hunting grounds of the turtle clan. It is thanks to the points on the trees that he knows this. The points which have been carved into the tree make the shape of a turtle, and Attean knows that, as a member of the beaver tribe, he cannot interfere with the turtle clan's kill.

There is no telling how long it would take the fox to either die of natural causes or be found by the turtle clan, and the creature's suffering will be unending until its death. It is this cruelty that bothers Matt, and he doesn't respect Attean for his refusal to either help the creature or bring an end to its suffering.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team