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Copyright 2001

Created by Brian Thornton

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The Light in the Forest

Answer Key Novel Study Guide

Conrad Richter


Answer all questions in sentence form.

Chapter One

  1. How had True Son learned to endure pain?

  2. In summer he would place a hot stone from the fire onto his flesh while in winter he would sit in the icy river until his father told him to come out.
  3. What news had just reached the Indian villages?

  4. The Indians had been informed that all white prisoners must be returned immediately to their white families.
  5. How does True Son react?

  6. True Son is horrified at the prospect of being returned to the whites as he now considers himself to be Indian.  He vows to hide himself in the forest where he can never be taken from his Indian village.
  7. What name did the whites use for the Lenni Lenape?

  8. The whites referred to the Lenni Lenape and their language as Delaware.
  9. Describe the man guarding True Son.

  10. Del Hardy was white, twenty years old and sported a head of red hair.  He wore a hunting shirt of coarse brownish material covered by a cape fringed with scarlet threads but more importantly he spoke True Son's native tongue.

Vocabulary: vomit, sapling, alien, dismayed humiliating, stake, aversion, loathing, stern, strewn, overwhelmed, fringed, raveled, affronted

Enrichment: Locate early American literature which details the capture of young white children by Natives and their eventual return to their white families.  A good example of the captivity genre would be The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.  Compare and contrast this literature with Conrad Richter's novel, The Light in the Forest.


Chapter Two

  1. What was Del Hardy convinced the Indians would never agree to do?

  2. Having lived amongst the Indians himself, Del Hardy was convinced that the Indians would never give up their white hostages as once they had adopted them, they considered them true and full-blooded Indians.
  3. According to Del, why had many of the men volunteered to go on a suicide march?

  4. Many of the volunteers had relatives who had been kidnapped or killed.  This was an opportunity to either reunite them with their white families or take revenge on their captors.
  5. Locate Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, the Allegheny River, the Ohio River, and the Muskingum River in an atlas.

  6. Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) is located where the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River flow into the Ohio.
  7. How did the Indians behave when they gave up their adopted white family members?

  8. Even the bravest warriors cried and begged the white captain to be good to their children and wives.
  9. Who was the most rebellious of the Indian prisoners?

  10. True Son (John Butler), the boy who was originally from Pennsylvania, was the most rebellious.
  11. Explain why the Indians were so ungrateful to the whites who had rescued them.

  12. Many of them had been living with their Indian families for years and probably felt more Indian than white.

Vocabulary: stint, suicide, hostile, plumb, seasoned, bandy, kin, hostages, doughtier, spunkier, sassed, mock, trussed, calico, retorted, dignity, soothed, passion, varmint

Enrichment: Research the author, Conrad Richter, and make a short presentation to the class.  Another alternative is to assume the role of Conrad Richter and answer questions from the class.  Make sure you research some of his other books.

Design and illustrate a title page for your study guide or design a bookcover or bookslip for your novel.


Chapter Three

  1. Why were the men in the camp excited?

  2. The men were excited as they were breaking camp and preparing to march back to their homes in Pennsylvania.
  3. Why does True Son want to eat the root of the May Apple?

  4. The May Apple root is poisonous and True Son wishes to end his life as he cannot bear to live with the whiteman.
  5. Who is True Son surprised to see moving abreast of him in the forest?

  6. He sees his cousin Half Arrow keeping abreast of him in the woods.
  7. What presents did True Son receive?

  8. He received a sack of parched corn, moccasins embroidered by his mother and sisters and finally an old worn bearskin which had been True Son's bed and would serve to keep him warm while also reminding him of his father.

Vocabulary: bustle, ditties, slouching, forsaken, abandonment, disgrace, triumphed, mourning, haltered, meadow, sycamore, loot, chatter, withered, trace, wry, grimace, parched, embroidered, shod, concealed, wigwam

Enrichment: Research the Delaware (Lenape) Indians and find out as much about them as you can. Create a bulletin board display of your findings and make a short presentation to your classmates.


Chapter Four

  1. How does Half Arrow plan to find his way home if he must return without Little Crane?

  2. He tells True Son that he would simply follow the horse droppings.
  3. According to Little Crane why do the white people act so strangely?

  4. Little Crane explains that the white people are not an original people like the Indian who had existed from the beginning after being created by the Great Being.  In fact the Great Being had to give them a Good Book (bible) so that they would know right from wrong.
  5. What important words of advice has True Son's father sent to him?

  6. The father cautions his son that it is wiser to be willing and alive than defiant and dead.
  7. Why does True Son not wave to his cousins across the water?

  8. His hands are tied.

Vocabulary: gloomy, soberly, ambush, fickle, disposition, cumbersome, near-sighted, tread, keen, elders, heedless, kettles, tomahawk, flushed, lunge, grave, impassive, persimmon, defiant, ramrod, whimper, tribe, waded, farewell

Enrichment: Assume the role of True Son and make a journal entry for each chapter that you have read.  Share you entries with a classmate.


Chapter Five

  1. Describe some of the new things that True Son sees on his journey and explain why they are upsetting to him.

  2. Answers will vary.  True Son sees mounds of earth (mountains) for the first time as well as plowed fields which have been created by "destroying" the Indian forests.  He is dismayed that he must walk on the hard roads (ruts) rather than the soft Indian paths in the forest.  True Son also notices curious wooden barriers which are fences.
  3. How does True Son describe the whitemen's lodges or homes?

  4. He describes them as far too confining and more like prisons than homes.
  5. What is the blocklike space in the centre of the town where no homes have been built?

  6. It is a town square or village green which was common in many English towns and villages.  It was the often the focal point of community life.  This tradition was brought to the New World with the earliest pioneers.  Sheep would often be allowed to graze on the land to keep the grass short.  In later times it was used for various sports including cricket and soccer.  Today many of them are used as parkland.
  7. How does True Son react to his biological father when he meets him for the first time?

  8. He believes his white father to be weak and inferior partially as he reveals his true feelings in front of everyone.

Vocabulary: constriction, swaggering, turncoat, slavish, exile, mounds, unscalable, stockades, desolate, stubble, exposed, rutted, stolid, receded, confinement, ostentation, wet-nurse, subjection, bombarded, sacrificial, restrained, ashen, stammer, scowl, pallid, presumptuous

Enrichment: Write a newspaper article describing the return of the whites to their biological families.  Remember to use a dramatic headline.


Chapter Six

  1. Why does Del Hardy toss his cap into the air?

  2. He is happy to be back at Fort Pitt in a whiteman's settlement.
  3. Describe how Del Hardy's reaction to the farmland and roads is different from that of True Son in the previous chapter.

  4. Upon seeing the cleared land and roads, Del proclaims that there is not a more pleasant sight to a whiteman after travelling through the savage trails of the forest for weeks on end.
  5. Describe True Son's escape attempt.

  6. Descriptions will vary.  True Son, seated on his horse, jumped off the small boat (ferry or scow) into the shallow water vanishing into the forest.  His plans were soon foiled when his horse threw him to the ground and shortly thereafter Del Hardy was able to locate the boy in some bushes.
  7. Describe True Son's initial reaction to the stairs.

  8. He was quite apprehensive believing that the stairs and bannister were an invention of the devil.
  9. What did the white man's clothes symbolize according to True Son?

  10. The clothes reminded him of the lies, thefts and murders perpetrated by the white man upon his "people".
  11. How did Gordie endear himself to his brother?

  12. He asked his brother, True Son, if he could have his clothes so that he too could be an Indian.  True Son was flattered by the boys interest and desire to emulate Indian life.

Vocabulary: mortared, rejoice, bosom, sullen, blackguards, squadron, scow, tethered, plunged, tenant, ordeal, recollect, shinned, aloofness, compassion, impassively, invalid, crude, pantaloons, mutual

Enrichment: Pretend that a publisher wishes to promote this book.  Design and illustrate a poster that you feel will arouse an interest in the story.  Display it in your classroom or school library.


Chapter Seven

  1. How did True Son feel as he lay in bed the first night in his parent's home?

  2. He found it suffocating, feeling as though he was lying in a sealed grave.  It convinced him that the heart of the whites must be different from the heart of the Indian-- that there must be fundamental differences.  He was also reluctant to sleep with his enemies around him.
  3. Explain what happened to True Son's Conestogo cousins.

  4. A handful of them had converted to Christianity but despite this they were were massacred by the white man a couple of days before Christmas.  It was a gruesome scene with the whites scalping some of the Indians and even chopping off their hands.
  5. How did Aunt Kate convince True Son (John Cameron Butler) to dress in white man's clothes?

  6. She threatened to wash and dress John herself if he refused to do it on his own.
  7. How does True Son defend his Delaware language?

  8. He tells his uncle that Delaware is the master language of the Indians and most tribes learn it so as to be able to communicate with other tribes.  He is implying that it is the lingua franca of the natives much like English is in our modern world.
  9. What impression do we have of Uncle Wilse by the end of this chapter?

  10. While opinions may vary, most readers will see Uncle Wilse as very biased against the Indians and one who considers them nothing more than butchers, beasts and barbarians to be exterminated.

Vocabulary: flourished, stale, bolster, pestilence, hatchets, gaol, barbarians, wrath, scorn, abhorrence, blotting, frock, flinched, revulsion, thrice, parlor, slate, derision, heathen, hackles, pagan, distorted, latter, abductor, vermin

Enrichment: Design and illustrate a book mark for your novel.

Write an imaginary letter to True Son.  You may have questions for him or even words of comfort.

Pretend you are True Son.  Write a letter to Half Arrow describing your situation.


Chapter Eight

  1. Who were Peter Wormley and Andy Goff?

  2. Peter Wormley was a tailor while Andy Goff was a shoemaker or bootmaker.  They had gone to the Butler home to outfit John Butler (True Son) with suits and boots respectively.
  3. How did Aunt Kate force True Son to wear his new clothes?

  4. During the night she took his Indian dress and moccasins while he was half asleep.
  5. What does Bejance mean when he tells Gordie that he and the other whites aren't really free?

  6. Bejance means that the white people are constrained by the restrictions and rules of white society and are never really free to do as they wish like the Indians.  For example, they own land and must pay taxes as well as having many other obligations that diminish their quality of life.
  7. Who lived on the Third Mountain (Stony Mountain)?

  8. An old Indian named Corn Blade lived on Stony Mountain and according to Bejance, the basketweaver, the old man could speak Lenape but refused to come down from the mountain as he was afraid the whites would scalp him.
  9. Where had True Son intended to go on his journey?

  10. He had planned to visit Corn Blade on Stony Mountain before he was apprehended by his father and Uncle Wilse.

Vocabulary: tainted, induce, forbade, millstone, languish, garb, encumbrances, odious, bower, rheumatic, plaited, tyke, assented, pulpit, aroma, stowing, cooperage, reproached

Enrichment: Compare and contrast the plight of the Native Americans with that of the black Americans.

Using the internet and other sources of information, plan a one week modern bus tour through the region of the country described in this novel.  List the places that you would be sure to include in your tour of early American history.  Justify your choices and create a tour pamphlet outlining the highlights of the tour.


Chapter Nine

  1. Why was the parson paying a visit to the Butler home?

  2. He had heard that Myra Butler was not well.
  3. Describe what had occurred eleven years earlier that caused Myra Butler to become an invalid.

  4. Her son, John Butler, had been kidnapped by the Indians and that was when her illness had commenced.
  5. Who was Colonel Elder?

  6. Colonel Elder was none other than Parson Elder who had served as the military leader of the Peshtank Men  (Paxton Boys) during their brutal attack on the Conestogo Indians.
  7. What excuse does the colonel offer to John as reason for not stopping the massacre?

  8. The colonel claims that the Paxton Boys might have killed his favourite horse if he had insisted they stop.
  9. Describe the conversation between the parson and John Butler.

  10. Answers will vary.  Parson Elder remained very calm initially while speaking to John.  He was willing to concede that the whites were not without guilt in their poor treatment of the Indians but he also told John that the Indians had themselves committed heinous crimes against the whites including the killing of children.  John conversely claimed that the Indians would never kill children and that his Indian father had told him that such a deed was the act of a coward.

Vocabulary: snaith, cradlers, parson, pastor, shrewd, galls, winced, lithe, formidable, dram, condone, precepts, pagan, sarcasm disintegrated, exemplary, disperse, asserted, congregation, pews, mutilated, deterred, provocative, fervent, veteran, tribulations, pliable, seraph

Enrichment: Have Myra Butler write a thank you note to the parson for his visit.

Pretend you are Myra Butler and compose a poem expressing thanks that you have been reunited with your long lost son.


Chapter Ten

  1. What kind of treatment did the doctor provide for the young boy?

  2. He bled the boy's feet.
  3. What was Dr. Childsley's diagnosis of True Son?

  4. He didn't know what type of savage  (referring to the Indians) ailment the boy had contracted but he stated that sooner or later True Son would either recover or die from it.
  5. Why did Aunt Kate return John's clothes to his bedroom?

  6. She hoped that it would make John feel better and therefore aid in his recovery and also that it would help to clear her own conscience.
  7. Who arrived at the Butler home and what news did he bring?

  8. Parson Elder's son arrived with news that there were two Indians in the vicinity and that one of them had been shot.
  9. What did Parson Elder's son mean when he stated that one of the Indians had one or two mugs of lum?

  10. He was referring to the alcoholic drink of rum.  As the Indians had difficulty with the letter "r", they would often pronounce it as "l"--hence lum instead of rum.
  11. How does Harry Butler relieve his stress?

  12. He goes over his financial accounts and then counts his money.

Vocabulary: gallipot, diagnose, brusque, mode, ailments, hemorrhaged, aboriginal, lurking, precepts, antagonism, thrifty, filial, solitude, divine, console, crones, degrading, aggravate, confide, valid, solace, remuneration, accumulation

Enrichment: Choose one of the characters from the novel and write a detailed description of them.  Include both their positive and negative characteristics.

Invite someone who is knowledgeable about native culture into your classroom to make a short presentation.


Chapter Eleven

  1. What proof did True Son offer that the Indians had more respect for words than the whites?

  2. True Son (John Butler) noticed that his white father, Harry Butler, would quickly open his letters, read them and then toss them aside. His Indian father on the other hand would first look after the needs of the messenger and then call on others to listen to the message.  It would often be presented in the form of an oration to all those who had been invited to listen.
  3. What was the black book that God had given the white people?

  4. It was the bible which they would read to him each evening while in his room.
  5. Why did Gordie come to bed in excited one evening?

  6. Gordie was excited because his Aunt Kate had seen an Indian looking through the window
  7. How does True Son explain white rudeness to Half Arrow?

  8. He tells Half Arrow that the white people are still young and haven't learned the hospitality of the Indians.
  9. Describe what happened to Little Crane.

  10. Little Crane was shot by the whitemen and then scalped.
  11. Why had the whites not laughed at the "happy" stories told by Little Crane?

  12. The stories were very critical of the whites and their treatment of the Indians.
  13. What was a cooper shop?

  14. A cooper shop or cooperage was a factory where barrels and kegs were made.
  15. Why does True Son wish to visit his uncle?

  16. He must suspect that his Uncle Wilse either participated in the killing or knows something about it?
  17. What happens to Uncle Wilse?

  18. Half Arrow and True Son attempt to scalp him but are interrupted by one of the helpers at the cooperage forcing them to leave the task unfinished.

Vocabulary: oration, remnants, venison, fragile, gnarled, insidious, submissive, reproved, tolerable, commotion, exertion, revived

Enrichment: Pretend that you are Conrad Richter's grandson/granddaughter and have just discovered a lost chapter from the book.  Present the chapter to your classmates.  Hint: You will have to write it first.


Chapter Twelve

  1. What happened to make True Son realize that he wasn't dead?

  2. He heard Half Arrow snoring beside him.
  3. Why was it impossible for True Son to return to the Butler home?

  4. He believed that they would confine both he and his cousin, Half Arrow, and that if his Uncle Wilse were to die they would hang them.  In fact even if they were freed, True Son felt that the Paxton boys would find them and murder them.
  5. What was the one small regret that True Son expressed to Half Arrow about leaving his white family?

  6. True Son regretted leaving his younger brother Gordie behind especially as he only had sisters back at his Indian home.
  7. How does Half Arrow defend taking the trader's boat?

  8. He persuades True Son that it is not stealing but rather taking back from the whites what they took from the Indians.

Vocabulary: infinite, aromatic, coarse, barbarous, pungency, droppings, berating, booty, summit, loafed, corrupted, plunder, pillage, gauntlet, sinister

Enrichment: Half Arrow was unable to take the larger "dugout" as it was tied with an iron rope.  The iron rope he was referring to was actually a chain.  Pretend you are an Indian that has arrived via a time machine into the modern world.  Describe modern objects such as cars, planes, rockets, computers, video games, televisions employing words that Half Arrow might have used.


Chapter Thirteen

  1. Why did Half Arrow believe it was no longer necessary to hide their boat during daylight?

  2. Half Arrow claimed that once past Fort Pitt, they were in Indian territory where the whiteman would no longer pursue them.
  3. Describe how the two boys made their net.

  4. Descriptions will vary.  First they used some pliable branches from the maple.  Next they took a variety of plants including creepers and vines and wove them into the branches.  The entire process took about one day.
  5. Give two reasons why the boys decided to leave for their home.

  6. They knew their families would be wondering about them and secondly the sun had passed its northern meridian indicating a change of season was beginning.

Vocabulary: ominous, covet, plague, enslaving, glade, benediction, lofty, clarity, boon, bounty, wards, lackeys, primitive, thwarts, meridian, foliage, exulted, restraint, million, discerned, embraced

Enrichment: With a group of your classmates, design a mural depicting the story and display it for your class.

Write a letter to Walt Disney Film Studios explaining why you would like them to do a remake of the film The Light in the Forest.

How do you think Conrad Richter chose the title for his novel?


Chapter Fourteen

  1. How did the village celebrate the return of the two boys?

  2. Descriptions will vary.  They prepared many different foods for feasting, played games, made music and visited one another's home during the festivities.
  3. According to Indian custom, who would lead the war party?

  4. According to tradition the Indian who proposed going to war normally acted as leader.
  5. What is the first clue that the Indians have killed a child?

  6. When the scalps are first displayed, one of them is smaller than the rest and has long fine hair the colour of willow shoots in spring.
  7. How does True Son react to Thitpan's explanation as to how he acquired the young scalp?

  8. He questions Thitpan stating that he didn't realize that they fought children.  This can be considered a turning point in the story as True Son appears surprised and shocked that Thitpan would do such a dastardly deed.
  9. What causes True Son to warn the people on the boat?

  10. He catches sight of a young boy on the boat and is suddenly reminded of his white brother, Gordie.  For a moment he even imagines that this might be the Butler family coming to rescue him.  Without further hesitation, he shouts a warning to the people on the boat that they are headed for an ambush.

Vocabulary: pervaded, lulled, hominy, carrion, valor, vengeance, fathom, recruiting, chorus, ferocity, riffle, quicksilver, recital, enticed, meritorious, decoy, allotted, remonstrating, imperial, disclosed, incredulity, stout, gross

Enrichment: Write a poem celebrating the return of True Son to his village and family.  Display the finished poems on a bulletin board.  Some students may prefer to compose a song and present it to the class.


Chapter Fifteen

  1. How did the council indicate that they were divided over what they should do concerning True Son's actions?

  2. One side of his face was blackened with charcoal while the other side was smeared with white clay.
  3. Explain how Cuyloga defended his son.

  4. Despite the fact that most of the warriors wished to burn True Son, Cuyloga, intervened arguing that only their pride had been hurt and that he would fight to defend his son's life if necessary.
  5. How did Cuyloga punish his son?

  6. He sent him into exile ordering him never to return as he had betrayed the Indian people who had treated him as family.
  7. What does Cuyloga say to True Son when they part ways?

  8. He warns him never to return or the Indians will kill him.  The final blow comes when he tells True Son that enemies never say goodbye.
  9. What appears to be True Son's main concern about returning to the white civilization when he is left alone at the end of the chapter?

  10. His main concern appears to be losing the freedom that he enjoyed as an Indian.

Vocabulary: gravity, reprieve, clan, prescribed, execution, decreed, disquieted, idly, neglected, yearned, molest, bleakly, volition, desolate

Enrichment: Write a one page summary of the book describing why you liked it.

Describe how you would feel if you were suddenly told that you could never see or visit with your family again.

Conduct a debate as to whether or not violence should be used to resolve disagreements.


Copyright 2001

Created by:
Brian Thornton, Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved