Chapter 7 Summary
That night, True Son and Hardy sleep in a closed-in bedroom that feels like a grave to the Indian boy. He does not sleep because he is thinking about the story Cuyloga told him about the horrible Peshtank Township. The men came into the Conestogo village and brutally killed everyone in it; the Conestogo, true to their faith (they had adopted the white man’s Christian religion), did not resist. Their cabins were burned and the people were destroyed. When the Conestogo who had been away from the village returned, they sought refuge in the white man’s jail, assuming this would be a safe place. It was not. Just before Christmas, “white barbarians,” all claiming to be Christians, broke open the jail and slaughtered the Indians. No one tried to stop them.
Finally True Son sleeps, and in the morning he still wears his Indian clothes until his disapproving Aunt Kate threatens to wash and dress him. True Son is appalled but allows Gordie to show him how to bathe with soap in the wooden tub. The pants and jacket are repugnant to him, along with everything else about this new life, but he dons the clothes before his extended family arrives.
He meets a dozen people, but they all look the same to him. Uncle Wilse is especially loathsome to True Son, as he was a leader of the Paxton boys. Wilse’s son Alec is appalled that an Indian boy is wearing his castoff clothing. Wilse is cruelly blunt about how horrible True Son must be since he was raised among such savages.
Hardy translates some of the conversation, and finally True Son must speak. With dignity, he explains that the Delaware language is the primary Indian language and it is beautiful. Wilse interrupts and True Son finally speaks directly to Wilse, accusing him of claiming to be a Christian even as he murdered the Conestogo. The furious man claims the Conestogo only pretended to be Christians so they could murder unsuspecting white people; they deserved to be murdered because they were not Christians.
True Son does not claim to know whether the Conestogo were true Christians, but he reminds his uncle that he and the others who killed them were Christians and begins to recount the awful ways the white men butchered the Indians. In a rage, Wilse claims they only got what they deserved.
Now Uncle Owens speaks a bit more reasonably, explaining the truth that the animosity between the whites and the Indians is deeply entrenched and is unlikely to change. He warns True Son that if any of his Indian friends come to see him, they will be in danger.
True Son is afraid and bitterly hurls an insult; as he does, Wilse slaps True Son hard enough nearly to knock the stoic boy down. True Son struggles to maintain his rigid stance and vows he will not speak again today. His eyes burn with a “black, consuming hatred” toward Wilse.