Chapter 1 Summary
True Son is fifteen years old and tries to act like a grown man when he hears the news, but inside he is in great pain. Physical pain he can endure, as he has many times before, like when hot stones were placed on his skin or when he had to sit in an icy river as his Indian father tried to make him strong enough to endure any physical hardship. But nothing has prepared him for this.
It is November, and it has been rumored for days in True Son’s village that the Lenni Lenape and Shawanose are being forced to return their white prisoners; but True Son never thought he would have to leave. Cuyloga has been True Son’s father for eleven years, ever since True Son was adopted as Cuyloga’s son, replacing a son who died. Cuyloga spoke words that replaced the boy’s white blood with Indian blood, and that is when the boy became True Son, a member of Cuyloga’s family. Now he must be torn from them and given to his enemy, “the alien whites.”
The day his father tells him the news, True Son determines he will never give up this life; so he sneaks out of his village, blackens his face with campfire soot, and hides in a hollow tree. True Son thinks no one will find him, but Cuyloga tracks his son down and ties the boy up in his cabin.
The next morning, Cuyloga leads True Son away from everything and everyone he has known for most of his life and leads him to the “ugly log redoubts and pale tents of the white army.” True Son wonders if Cuyloga, who has always been right, is in the right now.
The sights and smells of the white man are loathsome to the boy, and he tries with all his strength to escape this fate. Finally Cuyloga drags True Son, twisting and screaming, to the council house and deposits him in a pile of leaves along with the other captives.
True Son now knows all hope is lost. One of the soldiers, Del Hardy (perhaps nicknamed that because he can speak Delaware, what the white men call the language of the Lenni Lenape), tells Cuyloga that all Indians must leave the army camp by nightfall.
Before Cuyloga leaves, he speaks to True Son in a “low, stern voice” and tells the boy to go like a true Indian without shaming his father. True Son thinks about his beautiful village and weeps with homesickness.
The twenty-year old Hardy sees the boy’s sorrow and laughs at him. Immediately True Son turns away, and hatred rises in him like poison. He vows to steal the guard’s knife and kill him with it.