AP English 3-5
05 November 2014
The Frontier’s Hero
“In this scene of confusion and dismay, however, nothing could surpass the discretion and coolness of Deerslayer.” (Cooper 125). Deerslayer, Nathaniel Poe, Pathfinder, Hawkeye, and Natty Bumppo are just some of the names associated with James Fenimore Cooper’s heroic main character in stories such as The Deerslayer, and The Last of the Mohicans. Cooper introduces the American public to his character who embodies everything they strived to be in their new surroundings and in their ever-changing culture. Bumppo has many admirable morals compared to the men of his time, is unafraid of the many precarious situations he is thrown into, and prevails against any foe he shall face due to the superior set of skills that he has acquired. James Fenimore Cooper’s text of “A Rescue” from The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans, both the text and film versions, show all the characteristics of the American frontier hero in order to highlight what is, and was viewed as heroic in the United States.
Stereotypically every hero has a certain ability that sets them apart from the rest of the community. Natty Bumppo is a phenomenal shooter, and an example of this is in “A Rescue” from The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans (film version). In this scene from The Deerslayer, Bumppo watches two enemy Indians from the view of a hill above, “Deerslayer watched his opportunity, and finding two of his recent tormentors in a range, his rifle first broke the silence of the terrific scene. The bullet brought down both at one discharge” (Cooper 125). To kill one man in a single shot must require good aim, however, to bring down two at once is the work of a miracle or a divine intervention. Bumppo is not only a good shot, but also an incredible fighter. In Last of the Mohicans, film version, Monroe’s troops are being attacked on all sides by the Hurons. Poe manages to escape his chains and fight his way through many enemy Indians, rescuing Cora and Alice and escaping completely unscathed. Critics of Cooper’s may claim that the fighting and the shooting abilities of Poe are simply miracles and lucky shots. The fact is, that because Bumppo was raised by Chingachook, the leader of the Mohican tribe, he has been taught all his life the best fighting and shooting techniques. Thereby making him a superior warrior to every, and any, foe that he may come across in his travels. These skills will be extremely useful to Bumppo in his future adventures, however exceptional skill alone is not enough to become a hero.
Heroes are expected to be fearless and resourceful in any situation that may arise in order to succeed in their quest. Natty Bumppo is the definition of fearless in The Deerslayer, when the young hero is tied to a tree and forced to have knives and tomahawks thrown at him. During this entire ordeal, Bumppo does something that both shocks and impresses the reader. “The head was the only part he could move, and this had been purposely left free, that the tormentors might have the amusement and the tormented endure the shame of dodging, and otherwise attempting to avoid the blows. Deerslayer disappointed these hopes by a command of nerve that rendered his whole body as immovable as the tree to which he was bound.” (Cooper 120-1). Bumppo shows extreme fearlessness in this scene by stabilizing himself so much that he cannot flinch even though he is facing a certain death. Bumppo faces these types of life or death situations constantly. Known as Poe in the film version of Last of the Mohicans, he not only shows miraculous bravery, but also resourcefulness when trekking through the woods with the Monroe sisters after saving them from the Indian ambush. Immediately after defeating the Hurons in the fight, extremely outnumbered, Poe proceeds to collect guns, gunpowder and any other needed items from the dead. It may be contended that this action shows not...
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