Thanks to Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, I learned for the first time in my life, the French-Indian war which took place in North America in 18th century. In this war, British America (colony of Great Britain) and New France (colony of France) fought for trades and colonies along the American frontiers. As New France armies were outnumbered, they sought helps from the native Indian tribes.
General Munro and his armies were in Fort William Henry, when Cora and Alice—Munro’s daughters—travelled there in great danger to meet their father. They were escorted by Major Duncan Heyward, a respectable leader in the Royal Army, who was also falling in love with young Alice. As there was a risk of being ambushed by native Indians, or by the French armies who were on the way to take William Henry Fort from Munro, they recruited an Indian guide, Magua—from Huron tribe. On the way they met a white scout, Hawk-Eye, with his Indian companions Chingachgook and his son Uncas, the only survival of once great Mohican tribe. They warned Heyward that a Huron is not trustworthy, and Magua will mislead them. Magua escaped, so then Hawkeye and the Mohicans escorted Heyward and the two ladies, accompanied also by a psalm-singer called David Gamut.
After that, Cooper took us for an exciting adventure through the wild forest, meeting the Indian natives, fought them, and even visited their encampment. All of these, they went through in great danger. Many times Hawkeye and the Mohicans saved them from being scalped, and they even rescued their British friends when the Hurons captured them. Magua wanted to take revenge to Munro by forcing Cora to be his wife. Later on when Munro was forced to surrender the fort, and the armies were on the leave, the Hurons massacred many of them. In the chaos, Magua captured Cora for the second time, together with Alice and David. Now Munro, Heyward, Hawk-Eye, Chingachgook, and Uncas must race against time to rescue them. In the end, it would be a battle between the Delawares (from where the Mohicans came from) and Huron tribe.
The Last of the Mohicans is about the relationship between the whites and the natives, as well as between the native tribes themselves. If we traced down the history—and it was mentioned in the book—the main cause of it all is white people’s colonialism and their bad influences over the natives. Hawk-Eye told Heyward that the Delaware tribes (contained of six nations) were brothers on the beginning, until the Dutch traders landed on 1609, and introduced them to alcoholic drinks. The ‘poison’ brought to separation and disunity. And, like all colonialism and greediness of the conquerors, the natives who owned the land were expelled from their territory, to make place for the colonialists. Later on (not in this novel, though), the American even deliberately brought the Indians into destruction by their continual genocides act (American Indian Holocaust).
However, among the hatred and battles, sweet relationship could spring of the natives and the whites. The bond between Hawk-Eye and both Chingachgook and Uncas was very close; even closer, perhaps, than blood brothers. Although implicitly, we can also see that Uncas and Cora were attracted to each other. *spoiler alert* Interestingly, though, Cooper killed both youth before they even expressed their love to each other. Maybe Cooper just thought that their love was too impossible? *spoiler end*
I loved this book, although Cooper is rather spendthrift with words—like Mark Twain said (Twain re-write The Last of the Mohicans, and found that Cooper has ‘used 100 extra and unnecessary words in the original version’). I enjoyed the fast-paced adventure, the thrill of the Indian’s whoop which precede battles, and the funny moments when Hawk-Eye disguised as bear; but especially I loved to follow the calm and dignified attitude of Uncas and his father in any condition.
I am always sad everytime I read about Indian vs white people; because it reminds me how evil and egoist men are towards their brothers. How ironical it is, that they who profess to be Christian, could act so very unchristian, while the natives are much Christian than them. This book also reminds me that colonialism will always exist—in different shape maybe—but it will always be there, as long as the stronger keep oppressing the weaker; just like what Tamenund said in the ending: “The palefaces are masters of the earth, and the time of the Red Men has not yet come again.”
Five stars for The Last of the Mohicans!
I read the Penguin Popular Classics paperback edition
This book is counted as:
4th book for Back To The Classics 2014 (A Wartime Classic)
70th book for 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
2nd book for Historical Fiction Challenge (for 2014)
71st book for The Classics Club Project