The records of Moravian missionaries provide the background for this story of Tobias, a thirteen-year-old Delaware member of...

READ REVIEW

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW

The records of Moravian missionaries provide the background for this story of Tobias, a thirteen-year-old Delaware member of a pacifist Christian community that attempts to remain neutral during the Revolutionary War. Their. brotherly course proves impossible as warrior Delawares allied with the British occupy their villages, then force the people to relocate to prevent their aiding the nearby Virginians (called Long Knives). Near starvation, a portion of the community later leaves Wyandotte country to harvest the corn from their homeland, but once there all but two boys who escape are scalped by the Long Knives who associate them with recent atrocities committed by other Indians. Tobias of course is one of the two and the whole experience is seen in terms of his fears and discomforts. There is much waiting for attack or any decisive move in the beginning, much regret on Tobias' part that he cannot seem to please his stern, longsuffering, scripture-quoting father, and later much resentment when his father repeatedly forbids him to accompany the men on various excursions. All of this makes for a slow start and a passive hero, and when Tobias, after surviving the massacre and joining brethren elsewhere, writes on his cabin wall ""I AM NOT A BOY BUT A MAN. I HAVE WALKED THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH"" -- the very act seems to minimize the ordeal and disprove the assertion. As for the congregation, the lot seems pious to the point of obtuseness and divested, presumably by their Moravian teachers, of any native American survival sense -- though Hickman does not seem to be consciously making this point. Nevertheless her recreation of the recorded events is convincing and the unusual society's experiences will be of interest to those who like to learn about history through fiction.

Pub Date: April 8, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 215

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974