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The Education of Little Tree Summary



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    The EdLittle Tree The Education of Little Tree starts here, when Little Tree’s mom passed away and his grandparents took him in. He lived during a time of racism and prejudice that had lived on for many years between white people and Indians. He encounters this first hand on the bus ride to the wagon trail. His grandparents did not have tickets and when they entered the bus, the driver proceeded to make a joke and say “How! ” and everyone on the bus laughed. Though Little Tree did not know this, he assumed that they were friendly people.

    They finally arrived at their stop and exited the bus and walked for an extended period of time to their cozy home hidden amongst the mountains. Google Images, 2012 “It’s better to wear out when ye’ve lost something” (Forrest Carter, 1976) The Way I Kin Ye LOVE and UNDERSTANDING The Way or nature’s true reality, as I would say, existed as a way of life that most people failed to realize and to take notice of. It was something only the people who lead a simple, yet elegant life would possibly understand, as did Little Tree’s grandpa and grandma and the Cherokee.

    The Way for Little Tree was coming into an understanding with nature and all that inhabit it. Certain aspects of nature were compared to real life and the situations he faced daily with people. Some he took in and made it his own way of life. Just as ol’ Tal-con, the hawk, he would only take the smallest of the animals or the ones that were too slow that he caught. He learned to only take what was needed rather than gorge himself with excess material items or food. The Way to the Cherokee was to become kin with nature as a whole. Kin to the Cherokee meant both love and understanding.

    They believe that if you did not understand something, then how could come to ever love it. This fragment of words in the book ran deep through me as I read it, “you couldn’t love something you didn’t understand” (The Education of Little Tree, 38). It meant a lot more to me than reading just a mere book and it attracted me ever more so to reading more and more into this book, like it had some deeper meaning to teach me. I took from it that you should always make an attempt to try to understand those around and the nature of life as much as you can to grow your soul and your spirit.

    Google Images, 2012 “A man rises of his own will in the morning. ” (Forrest Carter, 1976) Knowing the Past Little Tree’s ancestry stretches back into the early days of the Cherokee, when they owned the mountains and farmed rich valleys. In order for Little Tree to understand his past lives he must first understand how is past was. His grandpa and grandma attempt to make this clear to him about how the ways of the past were for his ancestors. The government came with a paper treaty that said that they could live amidst the white people and not have to worry.

    Then the words from the treaty changed and no the Cherokee were forced to be removed from their lands and to head west. This trail became known as the Trail of Tears. However, it was not the Cherokee who cried, but the people who had the watch the harshness of inhumanity as the Cherokee had to carry their dead because the soldiers escorting them would not let them bury their fallen. The Cherokee did not look even take one glance at the soldiers, they just walked. This event is almost tantamount to how the story ends. Google Images, 2012 “The Cherokee men walked and looked straight ahead and would not look down…. (Forrest Carter, 1976) The Secret Place Little Tree one day when he was exploring found a place with a grassy knoll and old sweet gum tree along the spring branch. The Spirit Mind He was so ecstatic about finding this place and he knew that if he found something good, the first to do was to share it with someone close to him. Little Tree told his grandmother of it and she said that finding a special place was essential to broadening his spirit mind. Little Tree’s grandma said there is a body mind and a spirit mind and that when you die, only the spirit mind lives on to the next life.

    She also mentioned that one’s spirit mind can shrink if one does see things for what they are and eventually those people become dead or so ignorant of the world around them. Eventually their spirit mind shrinks to that of a “pea” and they only see things as material items like a tree as lumber. Google Images, 2012 “Grandma said all Cherokees had a secret place. ” (Forrest Carter, 1976) Learning the Trade While Little Tree lived with his grandparents, his grandpa proceeded to teach him the trade of making whiskey.

    His grandfather, Wales, had his still deep within the mountains back in a place called the Narrows. He took it up to teach Little Tree how to make whiskey using corn and the raw materials from nature. Little Tree and his Grandfather would deliver their wares to Mr. Jenkins who would give Little Tree his old, seeing as Little Tree would not accept the new candy for the easy job picking up wood chips. Google Images, 2012 “… Every man ought to have a trade and had ought to take pride in it…. ” (Forrest Carter, 1976) The Scandal Google Images, 2012

    Little Tree’s grandfather had never been a huge fan of politicians; however, one day when his grandfather and him where delivering their wares, a politician visited the town to give a speech about how he should be the man in Washington City. It was at this speech that Little Tree learned not to always trust people who offer what seems to be great deal without going through a careful examination of the agreement. A Christian man sold Little Tree a sick calf that died on his way back to the cabin. His grandpa told him that if he said that he could not have it, then Little Tree would think that he should.

    Also he said if he told him to buy it then he would blame his grandpa. Therefore, his grandpa let him make the mistake for himself. This alone is one of the grand principles of life that is necessary for one to become their own self image through their defining moments. The Dangerous Adventure Little Tree and his Grandfather had decided to go hand fishing and Little Tree wandered some down the bank to encounter a rattlesnake six inches from his face. His grandfather saved him by sticking his hand in front of the snake after sneaking up on it, but in turn almost gave his life to save Little Tree.

    It bit his grandfather on the hand and paid it back with strangling the snake to death. He cut the snake bite out with his knife and sucked the blood from it, but this was not enough. Little Tree ran to his grandma for help and she immediately left to go aid with his grandfather. She spent awhile making a fire and a remedy for the snake poison. Little Tree’s grandma used a quail to soak up the poison. Luckily, his grandfather lived after spending a full night in the wilderness unconscious from the fatal wound he was dealt. Willow John Willow John was a close family friend to Little Tree and his grandparents.

    He would always go to church with them and they would never pay to church. Willow John once left a present at church for Little Tree to find. Little Tree wanted to give a gift in return so one day in church he slipped a frog into Willow John’s pocket and as the preacher had started the sermon, the frog spoke for him and this lifted his spirit. Little Tree highly renowned Willow John and had come to kin him as well. Willow John, however, became deathly ill from the flu later on. He asked Little Tree and his grandfather to carry and bury his body at the base of an old fir-pine.

    Google Images, 2012 “He has begun his passing song, telling the spirits he was coming. ” (Forrest Carter, 1976) The Passing With the passing of Willow John came the foreshadowing into the events to come. His grandfather was taken by a fall on the mountain and died from natural causes. Pine Billy wept deeply for him as they buried him at his secret place atop the mountain. Then his grandma passed in rocker on the porch and left a note for Little Tree that said she and grandpa would be waiting for him so that he would not fall behind.

    Little Tree left that cabin and destroyed the still because he could not manage the trade as well as his grandfather did. He headed west with the hounds that were left, Little Red and Blue Boy. He said if he could not find a job that would let him keep his hounds, then he would move on. Little Red died from a fall through ice and Little Tree said that’s how a hound should die, in the mountains. Little Tree managed to find a job on a ranch and eventually got a horse and saddle. Blue Boy died at the end and Little Tree made an attempt to bury him on a mountain.

    This ending was almost parallel to the Trail of Tears at least for Little Tree. It was similar because of the hardship they all experienced and the losses they endured. The Message The Education of Little Tree was the teaching of the way of life to a young Indian child. It showed to always try to understand natural way of life and human interactions with Mother Nature. It demonstrated the flow of all things and how nature works all the way up to human beings. -(Forrest Carter, 1976) “It is so with people who store and fat themselves with more than their share. They will have it taken from them. And there will be wars over it…”

    The Education of Little Tree Summary. (2016, Dec 23). Retrieved from

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