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Last of the Mohicans Research Papers

James Fenimore Cooper is the author of one of the most enduring tales of the American Indian in literary history. A product of the romantic era and the frontier spirit which pervaded in American literature during the early 1800’s, Cooper’s novel Last of the Mohicans has received both positive and negative criticism for the picture Cooper painted of the American Indian. In The Indian in American Literature, Albert Keiser states that “the writer who more than anyone else impressed his conception of the Indian upon America and the world at large is James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), in eleven of whose books the red man plays a prominent part”.  The Last of the Mohicans is the second of the stories included in Coopers Leatherstocking Tales. The Leatherstocking Tales include the following:

  • The Pioneers
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • The prairie
  • The Pathfinder
  • The Deerslayer
Last of the Mohicans

The plot of Last of the Mohicans centers on Natty Bumppo, a central figure of the Leatherstocking series. His character as the last uncorrupted white man who prefers the code of the Indian than the nature of the white settlers, who is loyal, courageous and a superb exponent of woodcraft struck a chord with contemporary Americans that still finds an echo today. It was written in 1826, and is an adventure set in the forests of North America during the Seven Years War (1756 -1763) between Great Britain and France. The plot revolves around the story of the stolid colonial scout Hawkeye, nee Natty Bumppo who, with his two Indian companions Chingachgook (the Big Snake) and his son Uncas, stumble on a party of British soldiers conducting two fair maidens to their father, the commander of British Fort.

William Henry during the French and Indian War. Under the watchful eyes of the young British officer who has the girls in his charge and led by a Huron scout, Magua, the party appears, to the indomitable Hawkeye, to be at greater risk than they realize as they trek through the wilderness toward the safety of the girls’ father’s garrison. And, indeed, Hawkeye’s judgement is soon proved right as the scout Magua treacherously betrays the hapless girls in repayment, it seems, for a stint of corporal punishment inflicted on him previously by their absent parent. Since the Hurons, Magua’s native tribe, are culturally akin to the Iroquois who are the hereditary enemies of the Algonquin Delawares, from whom Chingachgook and his son hail and among whom Hawkeye has made his home and friendships, a natural antagonism has arisen almost at once between Hawkeye’s party and the Huron and this proves salutary, when danger finally strikes.

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