Red Prophet Summary
by Orson Scott Card

Start Your Free Trial

Download Red Prophet Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Red Prophet Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Second of The Tales of Alvin Maker, Red Prophet is a work of fantasy and adventure in the war between Native Americans and the predominantly white settlers of the American Midwest. Card presents this conflict by adapting the historical events of the war between American forces and eastern Native American tribes, united by Tecumseh and his brother, the Shawnee Prophet, especially the battle at Tippecanoe. Alvin becomes a means of bridging the two races as he learns to understand the Indians and their form of magic.

The central portion of the novel consists of Alvin Maker's adventures as he is captured by hostile Indians, and then rescued by friendly Indians, who teach him their way of life before they are driven west of the Mississippi River. These adventures take place on the physical level of capture and rescue, on a moral level moving from hostility to sympathy, and on a spiritual level of visionary experience, in which Alvin receives a vision of the America that can be if the democratic experiment succeeds. This experiment could unite the diversity of human talents and desires to create the Crystal City, a Utopia in which general human needs would be met, leaving people free to develop their souls as they are able.

While Red Prophet is accessible as an exciting story of adventure, it works on a number of other levels: as a fantasy panorama of American history, as an exploration of the contributions and liabilities of two major American cultures, and as a link in Card's developing vision of the Utopian potential of American democracy.