THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS BY JAMES FENNIMORE COOPER
AND THE CHANGING IDEAS OF THE FAMILY UNIT DURING THE COLONIZATION OF AMERICA
The Last of the Mohicans is set in the wild woodland frontier of western New York in the late 1750s, during the French and Indian War. Cooper uses the setting to display a number of different family dynamics, all of which are representative of normal family life during the colonization of America. For my essay, I will point out several of these dynamics and compare them with examples from our textbook and other accurate sources. I found the wild frontier an appropriate setting to explore the different types of families created as we expanded our borders, explored and settled a new continent. One example, which I will delve into shortly, is the camaraderie between Uncas, Hawkeye and Chingachgook. Another is Colonel Munro's blended family, with daughters from two very different backgrounds. His daughter Alice and her beloved Hayward represent the more traditional families found in New England. Finally, I'll briefly mention the concept of family in slave culture; although it isn't formally mentioned in The Last of the Mohicans, I felt it should be included as another important dynamic of the time period. Life in the wilderness created new definitions of family. Uncas and Hawkeye form a bond based on camaraderie, not bloodlines. Although Hawkeye is extremely proud of his Caucasian heritage, it is a family unit that transcends race. After Uncas’s legitimate father Chingachgook mysteriously disappears halfway through the novel, Hawkeye steps into the role. As Uncas develops into a strong, charismatic leader, he becomes more like Hawkeye, inheriting traits much like a son would from his father. During the Delaware council of Tamenund, Uncas has become as skilled and heroic as his mentor. Sadly, despite the liberal view regarding race, the novel does not allow the same leeway to the opposite sex. While it was acceptable for...
References: THE AMERICAN JOURNEY, chapters 2 and 3 http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/familyhistory.cfm
...and assorted meanderings on wikipedia, which doesn 't count for anything.
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