RESEARCH: LAST OF THE MOHICANS

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The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper was born on September 15, 1789 and by the time of his death; he was considered the “national novelist” of America. In his novel, The Last of the Mohicans, we have a classic story set in the 1700's. During this time, the French and Indian War is raging, complicated by an additional dispute between two Indian tribes, the Mohicans and the Hurons. Throughout the book we see characters with hearts that are strong and brave, but in spite of the characters, we see the inhumanity of the cruelty of the war. In The Last of the Mohicans, the theme is a conflict between civilization and savagery, and Cooper portrays a clash between races/cultures through the interracial friendship of Hawkeye and Chingachgook, through the barbarity between the Mohicans and the Hurons, and through the interracial love between Cora and Uncas. Cooper portrays a clash between races/cultures through the interracial friendship of Hawkeye and Chingachgook. The two main characters that portray this culture clash are Hawkeye, a white hunter, and Chingachgook, his Mohican ally. Cooper uses this quotation, “While one of these loiterers showed the red skin and wild accouterments of a native of the woods, the other exhibited, through the mask of his rude and nearly savage equipments, the brighter, though sun-burned and long-faced complexion of one who might claim descent from a European parentage” , to foreshadow that there is going to be a clash of cultures by showing how they differ just by appearance. Although both men are hunters, they use different weapons. Hawkeye carries a knife and a long rifle, but no tomahawk, as explained in this quote, “He also bore a knife in a girdle of wampum, like that which confined the scanty garments of the Indian, but no tomahawk” , as well as in this quote, “though a rifle of great length, which the theory of the more ingenious whites had taught them was the most dangerous of all fire-arms, leaned against a neighboring sapling” . Chingachgook carries a short rifle, knife, and a tomahawk, as explained in this quote, “A tomahawk and scalping knife, of English manufacture, were in his girdle; while a short military rifle, of that sort with which the policy of the whites armed their savage allies” . Chingachgook questions Hawkeye about the difference in the weapons in this quote, "Is there no difference, Hawkeye, between the stone-headed arrow of the warrior, and the leaden bullet with which you kill?" , and Hawkeye compliments the Indian’s handmade weapons compared to the power of the white man’s rifle when he says, “I should think a rifle in the hands of their grandfathers was not so dangerous as a hickory bow and a good flint-head might be, if drawn with Indian judgment, and sent by an Indian eye” . While he expresses his amazement at the Indians’ skill, his praise could be interpreted as arrogant. Possibly Hawkeye approves of the Indians’ skill with their old-fashioned toys but assumes that the whites’ rifles are far greater if used by white men. Hawkeye explains himself with these words, “I am not a prejudiced man, nor one who vaunts himself on his natural privileges, though the worst enemy I have on earth, and he is an Iroquois, daren’t deny that I am genuine white” . When Hawkeye insists on his “genuine” whiteness, Chingachgook keeps insisting on his Mohican heritage, and was “far to dignified to betray his unbelief” . Chingachgook is proud of his Mohican heritage as you can tell when he says, "My tribe is the grandfather of nations, but I am an unmixed man. The blood of chiefs is in my veins, where it must stay forever” . When Hawkeye uses the word “genuine”, it suggests sexual purity, foreshadowing racial mixing. Although he has strong friendships with many Indian men, including Chingachgook, here he demonstrates an insistence on his own “genuine” whiteness, whereas Chingachgook keeps insisting on his Mohican heritage. Cooper portrays a clash between races/cultures through...
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