Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
Broken by the loss of his cub, Tom begins to accept his new way of life, forced on him by the people of the town. He does not rebel when they cut the braids from his hair. He even begins to behave in a satisfactory manner. In fact, his conduct becomes so acceptable that he is given a room by himself in the dormitory.
Tom is assigned to work in the cobblerís shop, managed by Ed Porter. When Ed notices that Tom is very skillful with his hands, he recommends that the boy be placed in basketry class, where Tom excels. Because of his skills, the girls in the class pay him attention, a situation that makes the other boys jealous. As a result, they begin to tease Tom, who reacts by fighting and giving them bloody noses. As punishment for the fighting, Tom is flogged, but he takes it without making a sound. Instead, when the flogging is done, he goes off into the school building and tears his half finished basket into shreds. He then locks himself in his room and refuses to answer Benny or Rowena when they pound on his door, pleading and threatening him. Tom isolates himself for a whole day, not even emerging to eat. The others know he will come out when he gets hungry enough.
In this chapter, Tomís rebellious nature softens as he begins to accept his new way of life. He does not even fight back when they cut his braids, worn in the old Ute style. Still, however, he does not willingly interact with the other boys, for he feels he has nothing in common with them.
Tom is not very successful in working in the bar or in the cobblerís shop; however, the head of the cobblerís shop notices Tomís skill with his hands and recommends that he be assigned to basketry, where he succeeds in weaving baskets with greater skill than the instructor. Because of his talent, the young girls pay Tom attention, which angers the other boys. When they tease Tom in retaliation, he fights back physically, bloodying their noses. When asked to explain his behavior, Tom chooses to remain silent. As a result, he is severely flogged as punishment. Afterwards, he locks himself away in his room for a day, and no one can get him to emerge.
Although Tom tries to acclimate to his new environment, it is very difficult for him. He totally withdraws into himself, never interacting with the other young people and seldom speaking. He works at showing no emotion towards the pleadings, beatings, or threats that he receives from schoolmates and adults. It is almost like he is numb to the pain that he feels.
This is an important chapter, for it develops traits in Tom that he will retain throughout the novel. He will never find it easy to have friends or speak openly.
The evening after the flogging, Tom steals a knife, some cord, and some food. He then dresses in his leggings and moccasins and escapes through an open window into the October night. He immediately heads to Horse Mountain. When he arrives after several days of traveling, he sings for his bear at the place where he was released. When the cub does not appear, Tom heads to his lodge alone. Along the way, his animal friends - the squirrels, chipmunks, and jays - scream at him, for they do not recognize him in his changed state.
Arriving at the site of the lodge, he is crushed to find it is nothing but a heap of ashes. He is suddenly pervaded with a deep sense of alimentation, for he feels he no longer belongs anywhere. He is so upset that he is not even able to sing a mournful Indian song; he is almost too numb to feel anything.
After spending the night in the wild near the site of the lodge, he heads down to the valley the next morning, not really knowing where he is going.
The reaction of the animals to the changed Tom is a foreshadowing of the sense of rejection he is soon to feel. Although they had been his friends in the past, they no longer recognize him; instead, they scream at him like he was a stranger. When he calls for the bear cub and it does not respond, he feels a great loss. Then when he arrives at the lodge and finds that it is nothing more than a pile of ashes, he is devastated. The boy no longer feels that he belongs anywhere. He did not fit into civilized life in town; but now he does not even have a place in the wild. He feels like an intruder in his own environment, which gives him a sense of numbness.
After one night on the mountain, spent near the site of the lodge, Tom heads down into the valley, not really knowing where he is going. Feeling alienated and inadequate, he finds himself heading back to civilization, for he has no idea where else to go.