Light in the Forest

Have you ever looked back into history using a fictional book? One book that gives a vivid window to the past is The Light in the Forest.

This short novel by Richter Conrad contains such bitter irony between the Indians and whites because each culture didn’t understand or accepted each other’s values. The Lenni Lenape and the settlers couldn’t find a way to incorporate each other’s values so their only recourse was mutual violence; eventually one triumphed as the other was lost forever. Today we can finally understand the truth of this tragedy: in giving up the Indian way of life, we have lost important values that could help us.

The Lenni Lenape Indian’s culture is hard to interpret correctly, but its best values are sharing, responsibility, and loving nature. The Indians feel that if you have something you don’t need the item is rightfully the Indian’s to take if he needs it. In the right minds of the whites, we would consider this stealing, but for the Indians everything is theirs. For example, in the novel, on page 137 True Son and Half Arrow saw the two boats that belong to a trader and Half Arrow say he should get the boats since the whites have stolen from the Indians. Plus it is a custom for the Indians since the trader doesn’t need it right now. With this action the Indians have flourished since they can take anything around and live among each other as each Indians provide one another with everyone’s needs. Even with all this, each Indian still has his or her own daily responsibilities. For example, True Son has to venture outside with his Indian comrades. He is given the responsibility of bait to bring his white relatives to come to shore (pg. 164). Instead of killing his white kin, he tells them what was really going on and saves the settlers’ lives. This proves that he is not responsible to his own people, and then he must be burned. And it is awkward too, since the Indians love nature, but still burn peoples. For instance on page 176, True Son calls all of Mother Nature names such as father, sisters, brothers, and mothers. This shows that they treat nature as their own kin and enjoy it whenever they can as it cleanse their souls with fresh air and sounds in the woods. Therefore, nature fills them with everything they need because almost anything can happen in a blink of any eye as nature fills in the empty space of life in heaven.

Some of the greatest values of the settlers are comfort, family rules, and security. For the settlers, they cannot live without a fork, spoon, sleep in a bed, etc. We are like control by a civilized god that civilized everything we do. For example on page 76 in the novel Bejance explain to the boys that they live in comfort unlike living free in the woods. The settlers have a restrain since if they don’t have those “fancy beds” etc. then they won’t feel comfort enough and might perish. And have all those luxury items, there also are family rules. For example on page 67-70, True Son gets his first lesson of discipline as he meets his uncles. He is rude to his Uncle Wilse and got a good hard punishment as he learns to respect his kin and white elders. This proves that the elders in the settlers’ family have more control over the decision. The settler’s family rules have a strict preference since sometimes they take matter to their own hands. And with rules, there comes a strict security system. The whites have to defend against the Indians themselves. For example on page 69, his uncle tells him that they have to do what they have to do to protect their family and must always keep on guard for Indians. The settlers’ security is so high that they seem to be ready for any attacks that the Indians do. Therefore, the settlers’ security must be on guard because if the settlers lose control then anything is vulnerable to happen as death may come upon them.

The most important values that let the settlers triumph were their vast of arms, farming, and housing. First of all, the whites have a vast collection of arms, however, the Indians uses weapons that they make from trees or bought from traders. From way back in history, when the whites were fighting the Indians, the whites had the offensive and are superior over the Indian while the Indian were good at defense since they know that land more. This value lets the settlers won because they driven the Indians further back and when there is no place for the Indians to hide the settlers kills the Indians. Even with this technique, the settlers need food to live so they start farming. From way back in history, the pilgrims didn’t have anything to eat so they had to ask Squanto to help them farm. Farming is a value that let the settlers triumph because the settlers could survive and create more population, but for the Indians it is different. It is different for the Indians because on page 116 Half Arrow says that he ate yesterday. This means that the Indians have to rely on the forest for food or they will die. With these two only one value is left: housing. The whites have housing because they need a place to keep them safe. I think this let the whites triumph because they have a shelter where it can protect them from attacks but the Indians have to stay out of in the open. For example, on page 127 True Son and Half Arrow enjoy nature while sleeping on the ground. This proves that the Indian are not so cautious since they can be kill by any lurking eyes around them. Eventually these values let the settlers triumph while the Indians were lost forever.

The values that our world is missing today that the Lenni Lenape’s cultures have supplies are freedom, sharing, and respecting nature. First of all, freedom for the Indian is different. For example on page 127 True Son is enjoying the fresh air and all his little friends, but for the settlers they have to live in a lock-up place, and have to followed rules. We desperately need freedom because then we would at least experience the joy of no rules. But with freedom there comes a time when someone is in need which leads to sharing. Sharing is one of the values we are missing because our kinds don’t help other people. There are people that are homeless and who are orphans and we don’t even have a heart to help them. Our minds have been corrupt so we only think of ourselves, but not others. But there are still things we need to help other than those people. We are missing respecting nature. We don’t even respect nature since we liter and cut down trees to build houses. We only think of building industries and finding more treasures while we destroy the environment. I think we desperately need this goal because we need a safer and cleaner environment so there would be fewer diseases.

Therefore, I think that the settler and Indians culture has not yet fully understand or accepted each other culture so that cause destruction to the Indians while the white settlers triumph. Just don’t open the window to the new world too much or it might cause chaos.

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1 Comment
  1. nancy
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    hello i am doing a research project about native americans and i need a secondary resource..according to my teacher ur essay on “The Light in the Forrest” is a secondary source and i need to give you credit in my reseach paper. i would like to know your first name and last if possible, my teacher is quite strict, atleast first name and initial of last would be good : ) please help- nhianna04@hotmail.com

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