Discussion Topic

Key events in "The Sign of the Beaver."


Key events in "The Sign of the Beaver" include Matt being left alone to guard his family's cabin, his encounter and subsequent friendship with Attean, learning survival skills from Attean, the cultural exchange between Matt and the Beaver clan, and Matt's decision to stay and wait for his family rather than leave with Attean's tribe.

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What are the historical events in "The Sign of the Beaver"?

"The Sign of the Beaver" takes place in 1769 in Maine. It is during this time in Colonial America that conflict between the British and colonists begins to escalate. The French and Indian War had ended five years prior. The British needed to raise money to keep troops in America. At the time of this story, various tax acts were imposed on the colonists to raise the money to keep the troops in America, which further escalated the conflict between the two groups. 

In addition to a time of conflict between the British and colonists, and more central to the novel's storyline, there is the ongoing conflict between Native Americans and the white settlers who continue to expand their territory. As the white move into Native American lands, they take land from the Native Americans using unfair treaties the Native Americans cannot read. In the novel, one reason Saknis wants Matt to teach Attean to read is so that Attean can read the white treaties and avoid Native Americans being cheated.

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What are the five key events in The Sign of the Beaver?

I believe that the five most important incidents in the story The Sign of the Beaver include the following -

  • Matt is left alone to take care of the family's settlement in Maine Territory while his father returns to Massachusetts to bring back his mother and siblings.
  • The Indian Saknis rescues Matt when the boy is attacked by a horde of angry bees. Saknis provides for Matt until he is well, and in return, asks Matt to teach his grandson Attean to read.
  • Matt and Attean kill an angry bear together. Until that time, the two boys did not get along very well, but after that, they develop a mutual respect; Matt is invited to Attean's village by Saknis to celebrate.
  • Attean finds his manitou, which allows him to take his place as a man in his tribe.
  • Saknis and Attean invite Matt to accompany the tribe when they leave the area in the winter, but Matt, remaining loyal to the promise he made to his father, politely refuses. Matt's act earns him the unqualified respect of the Indians, who understand the courage and integrity required by the boy in making the decision. 

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