The Indian in the Cupboard

by Lynne Reid Banks

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Chapters 4–6 Summary and Analysis

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Chapter 4

Outside, Little Bear gallops on his horse all along the dirt path. Observing the Indian, Omri finds himself starting to see the world from Little Bear’s point of view. Meanwhile, Little Bear is wary of the beasts he encounters, such as the ant and the bird flying overhead. He pleads with Omri to make him a weapon.

Eventually, Omri asks Little Bear to go back inside the matchbox, as he has to start preparing for school. Before he is able to go upstairs, however, Omri’s father catches him and berates him for going outside in only his pajamas and with no slippers. This pushes Omri to rush to his room in fear and discombobulate Little Bear and his horse. Upon opening the matchbox, Omri is horrified to see that Little Bear’s leg is bleeding—the horse kicked him in its panic.

Omri makes a disinfectant solution out of Listerine and warm water. He scrambles to find a small enough bandage for Little Bear and spots his plastic figurine of a World War I medic carrying a first aid kit. Without thinking, he locks the figurine in the cupboard. Moments later, an English voice cries out from the inside.

Chapter 5

Omri opens the cupboard to find the English medic looking up at him in fright. To placate him, Omri tells the medic that he is dreaming and that he will wake up once he finishes one task. Once placed on the ground with Little Bear, the medic immediately understands that he is to patch up the Indian’s wound. Meanwhile, Omri rushes to Gillon’s room and takes his brother’s magnifying glass. He uses it to observe the contents of the medic’s first aid kit. After Little Bear is all bandaged up, Omri turns the medic back into plastic using the cupboard.

Little Bear proclaims that he is going to make himself a longhouse—a traditional Iroquois house—while Omri is away at school. He requests materials such as earth and wood. After breakfast, Omri rushes to his family’s greenhouse and retrieves the materials for Little Bear. He also leaves food—bread and corned beef for Little Bear, and grass for his horse. Finally, Omri realizes that Little Bear will need an axe for building. He takes his plastic figurine of a knight wielding a battle-axe and places it inside the cupboard. After wresting the axe from the knight and turning the knight into plastic once more, he leaves the axe with Little Bear, who is meditating when Omri leaves the room. 

Chapter 6

At school, Omri reads a book about the Iroquois in the library. He learns about their history with the Algonquin and how the tribes were incentivized by the French and the English to scalp each other.

During class hours, Omri is scolded multiple times for being absentminded. Patrick asks Omri what he is thinking about and is annoyed to find Omri still fixated on the toy Indian.

At lunchtime, Omri sneaks out to Yapp’s, the toy shop, and returns with a toy Indian chief, complete with a bow and arrows. During their arts period, Omri painstakingly sews a teepee out of felt and sticks. Patrick asks to come visit Omri at home after school, but Omri lies and says that his mother has visitors. This is something Patrick sees through easily, and it hurts him.

Back in his room, Omri is delighted to find Little Bear almost done with his longhouse. He remarks that Little Bear must no longer want the teepee he made in school, but the Indian is enamored with Omri’s beautifully constructed teepee. He requests paint with...

(This entire section contains 992 words.)

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which to draw Iroquois symbols on it. When Omri comes back with his poster paints, he finds Little Bear observing the plastic figurine of the Indian chief.

Omri brings the Indian chief to life with his cupboard but feels guilty about plucking the chief’s headdress and quiver. To Omri’s shock, the petrified chief suddenly slumps over lifelessly. Upon bringing Little Bear to inspect the chief, Little Bear tells him that the chief has died of a heart attack and proceeds to strip the body of its belongings. Pronouncing himself the new chief, Little Bear dons the headdress and cape.

Suddenly, Omri’s father calls him downstairs and scolds him for raiding the greenhouse. Omri apologizes and promises to replace his father’s seed tray with his own money. 


Because Omri figures out the secret of the cupboard early on, he uses the knowledge to his advantage. Using the cupboard, he brings his toy figure of a World War I medic to life to help patch up Little Bear’s leg wound. He is also able to anticipate the medic’s confusion and wisely comes up with the lie that the medic is merely dreaming. The chapter in which the medic nurses Little Bear is entitled “Tommy”—a common slang word for a soldier of the British Army.

In chapter 6, Omri uses the cupboard once more to bring to life the Indian chief he bought at Yapp’s. As he transformed his plastic knight only to take its battle-axe, Omri plans to take the chief’s bow and arrows. This quickly becomes an unpleasant experience for Omri, however, as the chief is frightened of him and dies from a heart attack. The chief’s death is an important event in the novel, as it becomes one of the reasons Omri decides to become more responsible with the cupboard.

Because Omri has decided to keep Little Bear to himself, his secrets drive a rift between him and his friend Patrick. Patrick wishes to see the toy Indian for himself and to play with Omri, but Omri fears that his friend is going to ruin the experience. As time goes on, however, it becomes apparent that he has to let Patrick in on the secret or lose him as a friend.


Chapters 1–3 Summary and Analysis


Chapters 7–9 Summary and Analysis