(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Kazimiroff avoids the traditional error of writers who describe Native Americans as possessing a single culture. The values and practices of various tribes, including the Iroquois, are interestingly contrasted with those of the Algonquins. His descriptions also avoid the simplistic and inaccurate depictions of the Native American as being exclusively savage, inferior, noble, or childlike, depending on a writer’s personal prejudices. Unfortunately, Kazimiroff’s treatment of nineteenth century white European Americans is stereotypical. Both men and women are consistently described as one-dimensional, immoral, and cruel. More sensitively portrayed are other social outcasts of the time: recent immigrants and runaway slaves.

Two Trees, however, is a fleshed-out individual who is sympathetically but realistically drawn. He is, by turns, courageous and frail, a loyal friend and a withdrawn misanthropist. As a young man, Two Trees was too trusting, made mistakes in judgment, and was afraid of being alone. He sought love, was betrayed, and yearned for revenge. Eventually, he retreated into himself, stung by the injustices and disappointments of the world. At the same time, Two Trees showed courage and persistence as he tried to succeed in the whites’ world. His survival skills were a testimony to his will to live and withstand the attacks of humanity and nature. He became a loyal friend and an excellent mentor to the young boy who would grow up to be the author’s father.

The culture of the Algonquins, which Two Trees cherished and followed...

(The entire section is 639 words.)