Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2008

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The Sign of the Beaver Elizabeth George Speare Dell Yearling 1983 Zachary Neil 11/30/00 Period 2 This story took place on the frontier, in the summer of 1768, in Maine's woods. Matt Hallowell and his father stake a claim in Maine territory. Once they find the perfect place, they build a new cabin. There were many trees around and a river close by where they could get water and food. There was even enough room to plant corn. There weren't any other settlers there. After Matt and his father got the place ready, they both decided that Matt would stay to guard the new cabin while his dad went back to Massachusetts to get the rest of the family including Matt's mother who was going to have a baby and his sister. Matt is only twelve years old and he has to stay by himself in the wilderness. He is scared but knows he can do it.

Matt Hallowell is twelve years old and is very smart. He does not have experience in being in the wilderness alone but he knew that he had to prove to his family that he was old enough to take care of himself and the new cabin. He learned really fast how to take care of the crop, fish and do housework. Matt is very trusting. He left the door to the cabin unlocked all the time until a man named Ben entered the cabin when Matt was away and stole his food and father's gun. He had to learn to be more careful and protect his things. Matt's family was proud of him because he had learned how to survive and become friends with the Indians. Attean's grandfather liked Matt because he taught Attean how to read. In the beginning of the story Attean did not like Matt but by the end of the story they became friends.

Attean is a young Penobscot Indian. He is tall and has very long, black hair. He lives in the area that Matt and his father have claimed for their land. Because of how the white men treated them, he did not know whether he could trust him. At first, Attean is very mad and does not want to learn to read from Matt. His grandfather makes him go back to Matt's cabin to read. Attean started to trust Matt and even became his friend after Matt taught him how to read Robinson Caruso. The main thing Attean thinks about is becoming a man and a hunter. He had to pass a test of manhood to prove that he was a man and be able to hunt. He passed the test and cuts his hair short and painted his face and got a hunting rifle. Matt really liked Attean because he had taught him so many things and helped him survive.

Chief Saknis is Attean's grandfather and chief of the Penobscot Indian tribe. Chief Saknis is a very old and wise man. He wanted his grandson to learn to read and he knew that when Matt gave Attean the book about Robinson Caruso it could help Attean learn about the white man. Chief Saknis is also very nice. He knew that Matt was having trouble being alone so he made sure that Attean helped him to hunt and fish. He even gave Matt a pair of moccasins after he noticed that Matt only had one boot. They also kept Matt company while his family was gone.

The most frightening episode in the story was when Matt ran out of food and climbed a bee tree to get honey. He found a beehive filled with bees. The bees started attacking him until he found water to hide in. Matt went unconscious. When he woke up, he had been stung by a lot of bees and he realized that someone had taken care of him. Attean, and his grandfather had rescued him. It was frightening because Matt could have died with all of the bee stings.

The most thrilling episode in the story was when Matt and Attean went into the woods to hunt and saw a bear cub. Then they saw its mother. The mother bear was really mad and came running towards them. Attean shot the bear with his bow and arrow and killed it. They carried the bear on their shoulders to Attean's grandfather.

The saddest part in the story was when Matt's family finally came home to the new cabin. They had to tell him that the baby died after five days. It was really sad because Matt had made the baby a crib.

I think one of the author's reasons for writing The Sign of the Beaver was to show how important signs are to people and how they help us to communicate. The author showed that the Indians used picture signs and the white man used words as signs. Attean wanted to learn the written signs so that the Indians could understand and read papers that the white men brought when they wanted to take their land. Until Attean met Matt, the Indians would put a mark on the treaty papers that the white men would bring, to show that they wanted to be friends. The white men would trick the Indians into taking their land because they had the Indians sign a paper they couldn't read. In the end, when Attean and the tribe were leaving, Matt and Attean gave each other signs of friendship. Attean gave Matt his dog and Matt gave Attean his grandfather's watch. I think the author was also trying to draw a picture of an important era in history by showing how the Indians had to deal with the settlers that wanted their land. Even though this story is not true, these things could have happened. It showed how the Indians and new settlers had to struggle to live. The author did a good job in making you believe the story and that it really happened.