7 February 2012
Racial Divides in The Last of the Mohicans
Throughout James Fennimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans a common theme of interracial friendship and love and the difficulty it takes to overcome such an obstacle, is shown strongly in the work. In the novel Cooper shows how the America people of European decent treat those that are native, by showing how negatively they treat the Native Americans. Chingachgook and Hawkeye have a friendship that is genuine and deep, bypassing the normal relationship between that of a white man and a Mohican Indian. Interracial love and romantic relationships are condemned in The Last of the Mohicans, for example when, Cora, the older daughter of Munro, is approached by Magua and he explains his desire for their marriage it is preceded that their relationship is uncomfortable as well as awkward whereas Uncas and Cora’s mutual relationship ends in a terrible tragedy. Cooper makes it apparent that race was important in each individual’s acceptance and respect in the early American community, but the bond and friendship between Hawkeye and Chingachgook is stronger than the American community’s influence; there is also a common theme of interracial romantic relationships being impossible because of how Cora’s relationships with Uncas and Magua both come to an end.
Numerous critics agree that Cooper’s novel makes the relationship between the Native Americans and the white Americans noticeably different from their affiliation with their own race. “The Last of the Mohicans shifts its action back in time to the mythopoetical realm when the future of American hung in the balance between the primitive and the civilized, between the French and the British, between the white and red men.” (Burt 1). Burt suggests that with the treatment between the characters it shows America at a different stage, one that is still being built on and not quite finished in construction. Burt also suggests that That the last of the Mohicans is honest in Cooper’s portrayal of the interaction that is between the two main races of the novel, all the way to the depths of the “psychology of Native Americans and their place in American culture and conscience.” (Burt 1). The racial conflicts in the novel are shown when “multiple cultures interact without physical conflict, settle their differences through dialogue.” (Rinne 15). The conversation that is presented throughout the novel seems to help settle some of the disputes, between many individuals like Alice and Magua, a relationship that exemplifies how white and red men confront one another.
This concept of interracial interaction between the people of the novel, despite the bond between Hawkeye and Chingachgook, is shown clearly that it is not a pleasant connection. “As they traversed that short distance, not a voice was heard amongst them; but a slight exclamation proceeded from the younger of the females as the Indian runner glided by her unexpectedly and led the way along the military road in her front.” (Cooper 17). Alice shows her fear towards that of the Native blood, unlike her sister Cora, Alice struggles with others more. She is afraid and a symbol of the people that are not always shown in Cooper’s novel. As she continues to look at him, “an indescribable look of pity, admiration, and horror as her dark eye followed the easy motions of the savage.”(Cooper 17). She represents the way many of the other women of the time felt; uneasy and unsure of these people of any different race. Alice’s background is why she is chosen to represent the white population, since she is of pure blood. Throughout this novel the other American’s are shown as treating the Natives with little respect because of racism, believing that with their possessions such as their clothes, weapons, and education they are to be held to a higher standard and supreme to the Natives that surround them.
In The Last of the Mohicans Cooper begins a trend...
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