He is the main character in the story. Little Tree is lucky enough to get the opportunity of experiencing nature in his life. No one around him guides him on what he should become. The boy is inquisitive, and has to live at grandparents’ home after the death of his father and mother (Carter, 2001). As one goes through the story, it can be seen the boy gains the insight into life from two old people. He also gets acquainted with the life of a Native American tribe known as the Cherokee and becomes one of them.
In the first chapter, it is told of how Little Tree leaves his parents’ home who passed away in order to live with his grandparents in the mountains. He is a naive boy and does not even realize the racial discrimination acts against him in the bus. At his grandparents’ home, he learns a lot about nature and his grandfather also teaches him the rules of hunting. The story also captures the philosophy of kinship that guides the Cherokee, and covers a history of how the government interfered with their lifestyle (Carter, 2001). His grandfather is an illegal dealer in whisky and hates politicians for taxing it. Little Tree’s grandmother teaches him why some people are virtuous and others are not. The boy learns of Hippocrates among Christians after being conned off fifty cents for a calf that is about to die. He also learns of how suspicious people are no matter how genuine one’s intentions may be.
Little Tree’s grandfather takes a snakebite for him, and later explains that he understands him more than any other person. He also tells him of how he has seen the white people become unfair to one another, especially being a boy. Little Tree and his grandmother collude to put off some bad men who want to get unfairly get money from his grandfathers whiskey business. The story also gives us a comic relief as a result of a gift that Little Tree leaves for Willow John. At the church, a public confession of a woman’s adultery with many men causes embarrassment among many people (Carter, 2001). Little Tree’s grandfather teaches him that it is much better to teach people how they can be able to rely on themselves. They also have a family friend called Mr. Wine who loves them all, but Little Tree loves him much more than the others. Apparently, they are his only family. Finally, the boy is forced by the authorities to leave his grandfather and grandmother.
He is severely beaten because of his knowledge about nature which is better than that of the teacher. His innocence as a small boy also comes out clearly. Later on, he sees his biological father and they go back to stay in the cabin in the mountains. Willow John dies first, followed by Little Tree’s grandfather; eventually, even his grandmother leaves the cabin (Carter, 2001).
The story shows readers how nature and traditions that are anchored on environmental sustainability, kindness and honesty can mould a young person’s character, especially if the world has not corrupted him or her. This is what happens to Little Tree. The last part of the story is, however, more of an illusion. The boy seems to realize that the moment has come to move away from the people who have taught him so much on how to live.