Last Of The Mohicans Essay Research Paper

The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper’s the Last of the Mohicans is a gripping novel that

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depicts the travel of 7 people through the dangerous woods of western New York

in the late 18th century. The story takes place during the French and Indian war at

the height of conflict. Major Duncan Heyward is accompanying singer David

Gamut and the two daughters of the English colonel Munro from Fort Edward to

Fort William Henry. Along the way, the four travelers discover that their Indian

guide Magua has purposely lead them in the wrong direction. Their only chance of

making it to Fort William Henry now rests in the hands of Hawk Eye (a man who

knows the way of the Indians but continuously asserts that he has no Indian

blood) and Uncas and Chingachgook (the only two living members of the once

great tribe known as Mohican). Together, the group sneaks through the woods

avoiding the French troops as well as the dangerous Huron’s who have formed an

alliance with the French.

The book is full of adventure. Earlier in the book, the travelers stop to

spend the night in a cave near a waterfall, but they are attacked by Magua’s allies

the Huron’s. Hawkeye and the Mohicans managed to escape down the river but

Heyward, Gamut, and the Munro sisters are all taken as prisoners by the Huron’s.

Magua then tells the group that he seeks revenge on colonel Munro. But before he

had the chance to act, Hawkeye and the Mohicans attacked the Huron’s and killed

all but Magua who managed to escape.

Although the book had a fictitious spin, a little research shows me that the

events and certain characters are more or less historically accurate. One occasion

was the Massacre of William Henry. Once the travelers arrived at their destination,

they learned that the fort was receiving no more troops and would be forced the

surrender to General Montcalm and the French. Montcalm told Fort William

Henry that he would allow them to leave with all their belongings, without a fight.

However, once the party left the fort, they were surrounded and almost everyone

was killed. The Munro sisters and David were once again captured by Magua.

The book also discusses the alliances between Europeans and Indians. The

French and English were quick to make friends with the Indians because they

knew they would need their help. The Indians knew the woods and how to live off

the land, so they were more or less exploited by their European settlers.

The climax of the book wouldn’t let me put it down. Magua had recaptured

the travelers and Hawkeye, the Mohicans, and Heyward were on their trail. They

found David in the woods who informed them that the sisters were being held at

two different posts. One, a post of the Huron’s, the other of the Delaware. Using

different disguises and deception the group rescues Alice from the Huron’s. At the

camp of the Delaware where Magua was holding Cora, Magua convinced the

others that Hawkeye and the Mohicans were the enemy. Hawkeye then proves that

he is a chief to the sage Tamenund. At this point they had rescued all but Cora

who Magua managed to flee with. After a chase and a fight, Magua and his

Huron’s were defeated but one Huron killed Cora. Uncas then killed that Huron

because at that point, he had fallen deeply in love with Cora. Magua then killed

Uncas by stabbing him in the back. Magua was then chased until he was forced to

jump over a cliff and died.

While James Cooper doesn’t express his personal opinion on the history of

our nation, he speaks through his characters and discusses how the Europeans

introduced alcohol to the Indians. And had them drink until they thought they were

enlightened and lost their land. Throughout the story it becomes more and more

apparent that Indians were used and abused by the French and the English. The

book makes me think that our history is full of ruthless deception. From the

beginning when the travelers were first taken the wrong way by their two faced

guide, to the Massacre of William Henry, the book was full of lies that lead to


I learnt allot from reading this book. I did not know anything about the

history of the Indians. I had no idea they had such strong alliances with the French

and the English. The fact that the Indians could look at the print of a moccasin and

know what tribe the owner of the print belonged to amazes me. The navigational

skills of the Indians seamed unreal. If the book is accurate, they seem to have

known every inch of woods as if they had been there many times before. They

always seemed very aware of their surroundings and never ever panicked.

Some of the things I learnt from the book were rather gruesome or

depressing. For example, at the start of the Massacre of William Henry, one of the

Huron’s took a baby from one of the English mothers and smashed its head open

on a rock. The Indian then took his tomahawk to the head of the mother and killed

her too. I was also disappointed to learn that scalping was a very common practice

among the natives. I always knew it happened but I had no idea it was such a

regular occurrence. Also the fact that the Europeans came to America and got the

Indians drunk and then exploited them is a sad thing.

Looking back on the book, I think it was very good. The story was excellent

and their little encounters along the way were exciting. Their were something’s

about the book that I didn’t really care for. James Cooper tends to write very long,

descriptive sentences with many comas. So many comas that by the end of the

sentence your not really sure what you just read. Once you get used to that the

book becomes easier to read and is more enjoyable. The other thing I didn’t care

for about the book were the parts that were in French and the author offered no

translation. The author also calls the Indians by several different names and that

gets to be confusing.

All that aside, the book was fun to read. The ending was excellent. Cora

and Uncas are buried the following day and Tamenund sadly announces that he

has lived to see the last warrior of the noble race of the Mohicans.

I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. Even though it is an exciting

story, the lengthy sentences, the passages in French, and the unfamiliar words

make this book hard to read. I read entire paragraphs and after I had finished I had

no idea what I had just read. I actually had to read the first hundred pages twice

because I wasn’t sure I understood what was going on. I would recommend this

book to someone who would like to learn something about Indians but doesn’t

want to read a textbook.

I learned a few things about the Indians and enjoyed the story. My favorite

part aside from the climax was when the Mohicans and Hawkeye appeared out of

nowhere and rescued Heyward, David, Cora and Alice. I was sure someone would

die because they were all tied up and defenseless.

I thought it was interesting that when they had to do some deep thinking

they packed their bowls together, smoked, and talked. I was impressed by how

aware they were of their surroundings. They knew which spots would be a good

place to stop and rest based on how ready they would be to defend themselves and

how well they would be able to see their enimie’s. They also were very careful not

to leave tracks. They used the river whenever possible so their footprints could not

be followed. The Indians could even tell when someone had tried to cover their

tracks by the way branches had been broken and other things like that. I found the

way Indians communicate to be very interesting. The Mohicans spoke about how

the Indians have one word for everything and they change how they want to

express that word with the pitch of there voice. The Mohicans stressed how much

the tone of voice mattered to them.

This book has enticed me to learn more about the Indians and their customs.

They seemed to kill animals for no reason but after they were questioned by the

Europeans they gave good answers. At one point in the book they killed a deer and

then told Cora and Alice that the deer would have given them away and by killing

the young deer it wouldn’t face any hardship that might have come its way. I also

found their shouts of war interesting and I would like to learn more about them.

The story itself is what really kept me reading though. It was suspenseful and

exciting. In closing, I’m glad I read this book.


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