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The Light in the Forest

Quick Glance



This is the total number of incidents in this 117 page book.

*As personal standards vary, please see the breakdown to determine what matters to you.

Author: Conrad Richter
Key Words: Fiction, Teen, Colonial, Racism

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Book Description:

When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier and adopted by the great warrrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian. But eleven years later his tribe, the Lenni Lenape, has signed a treaty with the white men and agreed to return their captives, including fifteen-year-old True Son. Now he must go back to the family he has forgotten, whose language is no longer his, and whose ways of dress and behavior are as strange to him as the ways of the forest are to them. A beautifully written, sensitively told story of a white boy brought up by Indians, The Light in the Forest is a beloved American classic.


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Children's Bad Words

Name Calling - 5 Incidents

Injuns (throughout the book), b*st*rd, Negro, old black, white devils

Religious Profanity - 4 Incidents

Almighty, God, Lord, God d*mn

Scatological Terms - 1 Incident


Religious & Supernatural - 16 Incidents

"The Great Being" in Indian theology.

"The Great Being" is referenced as "knowing them" and teaching them to read.

"... I hope the Great Being sends a big wind to knock down the dead wood and kill them in their beds."

"The whites were very childish to believe that the God of the Whole Universe would stay in such a closed-up and stuffy place. The Indians knew better - that the Great Spirit loved the freedom of woods and streams where the air blew pure..."

The Great Spirit (several times throughout)

"Perhaps the Ruler of Heaven and Earth had imprisoned him to make him value freedom when he got out."

The Earth is referred to as someone's Mother.

Young Gods

Earth is referred to as Mother - followed by his "aunt, the Night" and "brother-in-law, the West Wind" and his "Uncle, the Moon."

Again, the Sun, a Squirrel, and the Earth are referred to as family members.

Mother Earth

"Father of Heaven"

"Great One"

The Sun, the Creek et cetera referred to as family.


Moon as Uncle

Violence - 8 Incidents

It is discussed with "what strokes" they would "scalp" the "white guards."

"They did indecencies. They chopped off the hands of the men and the squaws. They put guns in the mouth of one of our Conestogo cousins while he was speaking and blew his head to pieces."

"You blow heads off of Indian men. You kill Indian women and young ones. No one is left. You scalp. You chop. You cut off hands and try to cut off feet -"

It is discussed that men were "fixed" so that they couldn't "breed any more murderers."

"...scalping white children and dashing their poor brains out against a tree."

A man says if he would have persisted, the Indians would have killed his favorite horse. To this, it is replied: "Better your favorite horse dead than the favorite young ones of the poor Indian."

It is noted that children were "killed and mutilated by Indians" and that the head of one was "used as a football."

A "white man" is attacked with a knife and it is discussed whether to skin him, scalp him et cetera, before their "trophy" is left behind.

Romance Related - 8 Incidents

It is noted that a man's "squaw had gone to another Indian's cabin to live" and she brought her children.

"One of these days he'll notice some pretty and desirable girl."

A boy sees a girl whom he remembers always looked at him.

"Bosom" or "breast" used - not sexually

Naked - not sexual

Undress - "It reminded him of stories of squaws among the Ottowas who would run and catch a young man and undress him."

Naked - not sexual

It is noted that, "He was still incomprehensible to his son, in dress and sex like a man and yet unable to rule his own squaw..."

Attitudes/Disobedience - 5 Incidents

A boy is laughed at and then feels hatred. He then plots to kill someone.

Wanting to "get back at the Injuns" it is noted that "our fingers itched like fire on our hatchets and triggers."

Racism - "I spit on white people!"

Theft - It is contemplated which of the "white man's horses to steal."

Children laugh as a friend remarks that he hopes the "Great Being sends a big wind to knock down the dead wood and kill them in their beds."

Conversation Topics - 7 Incidents

Smoking, pipe and tobacco are mentioned.

It is noted that a boy puts a stone "hot from the fire on his flesh to see how long he could stand it."

A man says he would have gone through hell for his Colonel.

A man commits suicide by eating a poisonous root. True Son recollects this story and thinks that maybe he'll commit suicide too since no one thought the man's actions were cowardly.

An aunt and a parson try to persuade the boy to drink whiskey.

Some Indians ask for "lum" (meaning "rum") and drink two-three mug fulls.

"...all we Indians know it is not stealing to take back from the whites what they took from us."

Parent Takeaway

This book explores the racial prejudices that existed between the Indians and early American settlers. It shows how both sides had their errors and that you can't judge a group of people based on the actions of a few. Regarding God and "the Great Being," it comes across as if the author wonders if perhaps the whites and Indians worshipped the same god, just differently.

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