The Last of the Mohicans
In James Fenimore Coopers' book, The Last of the Mohicans, we find a classic story set in the 1700's. During this time, the war between the French and English is raging, complicated by an additional contention between the Mohican Indians and the Huron Indians. The location is in the area of Lake George in the Hudson Valley,somewhere between New York and Canada. The theme of this book is a conflict
between civilization and savagery, each being personified in both the whites, the Indians, and in nature itself.
The author seems to be showing the truth of human nature: that there is a
fine line between acting in a civilized manner and giving in to the primitive urge to totally destroy other human beings. The ruggedness of the region provided a
similar conflict with man. At times, it was beautiful,
sheltering, protecting, and nourishing the characters with food and water.
At other times, it was obviously wild and untamed bringing danger and
aiding in destruction.
There were many prominent characters in the book. These include
Chingachgook and his son, Uncas, who are the last remaining Mohicans and
the protagonists of the story. Another was Hawk-eye, who is a white man
raised from birth by Chingachgook. Major Duncan Hayward is an officer with
the English military who is assigned to transport two sisters from Fort Edward to their father at Fort William Henry. The antagonist, or dominant enemy, of the story was
Magua, a Huron Indian who was a leader of his people and was driven by the traditional savagery of his tribe.
The story begins with Major Hayward preparing to carry out his orders to transport Alice and Cora Monroe to their father, General Monroe, at Fort William Henry. In order to make the journey safely he hired a guide familiar with the area to lead the party through the treacherous territory. Unknown to him, his guide, Mage, had a plan to entrap them by leading them to the Huron's where they would surely be killed. As they pressed on through thick forests and deep rivers, they came upon a psalmist named David Gumet sitting beside the path. Gumet was a pleasant person and a gifted singer who had lost his horse and his provisions. They encouraged him to join them for his own safety. Shortly down the path, the Mohicans ambushed them with the goal of exposing Magua's mission. Magua escaped with the aid of the forest and the Mohicans were able to explain his intentions to the group. They realized night was falling and they made their way to a cave to obtain shelter.
At daybreak, a loud screaming as Magua awakened the party and a band of Huron Indians surprised them with an attack. Major Heyward, David, Cora, and Alice where captured by the Hurons and carried off to their village. Upon their arrival, the captives were each tied to a pine tree where they awaited Magua's decision on the torture that they...