The Light in the Forest

by Conrad Richter

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Student Question

Why does True Son stop eating the May apple root in The Light in the Forest?

Expert Answers

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True Son tries three times to get the root of the May apple so that he can kill himself, but his white guard, Del, watches him closely and does not give him a chance to secure one. When True Son leaves the council house where he has been held, Del "(keeps) hold of him like a haltered beast," so the young boy gives up his attempts temporarily, resolving to wait until they are on the road.

True Son knows that there are May apples in a wooded meadow through which they will pass tomorrow, and he plans to feign falling to the ground there, and to quickly grab a piece of the poison so that he can end his life. Once they are on the march, however, True Son is joined by his friend Half Arrow, who will accompany him as far as the white men will allow. Half Arrow lifts True Son's spirits, so that when the group passes the place where the May apples grow, True Son does not even notice.

Half Arrow makes fun of the white men, depicting them as being bumbling and foolish. He calls them "white devils," and says they are poor shots who would be unable to hit an Indian who is "jump(ing) and danc(ing)." He also claims that white men are "all near-sighted," and that "they all talk at once like waterfowl." Half Arrow says that if white men would share with each other like the Indians, they would not have to build barns to shelter their possessions and lock them away so others will not get them. He adds that, in the woods, white men camp "in any wet and dirty place," and "don't even look which way the wind blows before they make their campfire" (Chapters 3 and 4).

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