This article is about a beautiful book by a not so beautiful (racist, in fact)
author, Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree (1976). I will first reflect on the
usually fraught (and sometimes cosy) relationship of literature and morality. I then will give a flavor of the moral fiber of Carter’s novel and then turn to some darker
undercurrents, examining whether they intersect with the value of the work, whether
we need them to intersect, and whether they ultimately submerge any initial judgments of the book. The core issue is how and whether to continue to teach such works as worthy and beautiful literature despite deeply disturbing facts about the authors of such works. Finally, as we often have personal connections to our favorite books, how should such connections factor in while choosing whether to teach such works even if now aware of their problematic legacies?