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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
PART II: The School
After days of traveling, Blue Elk, the boy, and the bear arrive in town, where Tom finds everything to be strange. He is also upset when he is separated from his bear cub, which is imprisoned in a barn. Blue Elk is upset because the bear cub is not given to him. He would like to sell it for a profit.
Even though Tom is eager to teach the Indians about the old ways as Blue Elk has suggested, the people in town are more interested in teaching him the ways of civilized living. Benny Grayback, a vocational instructor, is used as an interpreter for the boy since Tom can only speak the Ute language.
This chapter begins the second part of the novel, entitled "The School." As soon as Tom arrives in town, his education begins. The townspeople are determined to instruct him in the civilized ways of life and use Benny Grayback, a vocational instructor, to teach him in the Ute language.
Both Tom and the bear cub are imprisoned in town. The bear is taken from Tom and literally chained in a barn. In a similar manner, Tom feels imprisoned in the civilized lifestyle of town. Neither the bear nor the boy will be able to escape and return to life in the wild.
Blue Elkís true nature is again seen in this chapter. He returns to Tomís lodge and shamelessly takes all of the boyís possessions. With no signs of remorse or guilt, he sells them and pockets the money.
Tom is placed with a fourteen-year-old boy named Luther Spotted Dog, who tries to help him dress in a civilized fashion and to tell him things about school. Tom dislikes and completely ignores Luther. In fact, there is nothing about town life that Tom likes. He detests the food and the restrictions. He longs to return to live in his lodge, but Benny prevents him from leaving town. Tom at first reacts with angry silence, which later turns to violence. When Tom is taken to the carpenter shop by Luther, the other boys ridicule him. As a result, Tom becomes violent and has to be tied up for awhile. He is later locked into a room by himself.
Tom is taken to Rowena Ellis, an English teacher, who is to help him learn the language. He tries to explain to her that he has come to town to teach the Indians the old ways. She insists he must learn the new ways first.
Fearing that Tom will rescue the bear and return to life in the wild, the townspeople lock the cub away where Tom cannot find it. When Tom learns of the bearís fate, he tells Benny that if the cub is set free, he will comply with all the rules and demands placed on him.
Life in civilization is very difficult for Tom. He is frustrated by his English lessons and detests the food he is expected to eat, especially the cooked meat. He does not like Luther, the teenager who is assigned to help him learn about school and town life. Neither does he like the other boys in town, who laugh at his odd ways. When they tease him, Tom grows violent and has to be restrained.
When Tom is locked away in a small room as punishment for his behavior, he sings a mournful song about the old Indian ways. Benny, overhearing the words to the song, tells Tom that the old ways are past and that he must acclimate to life in town, away from the wild. Tom, however, longs to return to the lodge and his old way of life. When Tom learns, however, that his bear cub has been locked up, he tells Benny he will try to conform if only the bear is freed.
Blue Elk is asked to take the bear cub and release him into the wild. At first he refuses to do the task; however, when he is offered ten dollars to do it, Blue Elk agrees. He tricks Tom into going with him, telling him he is taking him and the bear cub back to the lodge.
Blue Elk, Tom, and the chained bear cub travel to the foot of Horse Mountain. There Blue Elk tells the boy that the bear will be released, but that he must return with him to town. Tom reacts violently to this news, but Blue Elk overpowers him and ties him up. Blue Elk then tells Tom that he will leave the bear cub chained to a tree unless Tom returns to town peacefully. The boy promises to behave in order to save the bear.
Back in town, Tom is very quiet, almost like he is in a daze. Blue Elk collects his ten dollars, plus a bit more for a new cap that the boy has destroyed.
Blue Elkís greed is again seen in this chapter. At first he refuses to take the bear cub away and release him into the wild. Then when he is offered ten dollars to accomplish the task, he readily agrees. He then tricks Tom into going with him into the wild to release the cub, saying he is taking both the bear and Tom back to the lodge. When Tom realizes that the bear is to be permanently taken from him, he is heart broken. The bear is more than a pet to him; it has been more like a brother. Blue Elk seems callously unaffected by the emotional ordeal.
Tom is so upset over the loss of the cub that he withdraws into himself. When he returns to town with Blue Elk, he appears to be in a total daze. He feels totally alone in an alien world. Throughout the rest of the book, Tom will remember the misery of this day. It is obvious that his spirit has finally been broken.