The Last of the Mohicans Symbols

James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans, tells of an action-filled tale based on the French and Indian War of the 1700s. The novel starts with the tale of the British colonel’s daughters Cora and Alice, as they set out to pass a forest filled with dangerous American Indian tribes who were also at war with one another.

The two women, accompanied by three other men, plan on going to their father’s post for a visit. However, instead of successfully reaching the other end, they were all eventually captured and torn between the feud of warring tribes which then leads the story to an intense tale of the cat-and-mouse chase in the wilderness of the New York forest.

The story has plenty of characters which, in today’s modern setting, offers various symbols and hidden meanings that are well-incorporated to a plot of surprising twists and tragic ending.

Characters, Settings and Their Symbols

Hawkeye.

Being the main character in the story, Hawkeye is a protagonist and marksman who takes refuge in the forest more than on his own society. Despite having no American Indian blood, he is close to two of the other popular characters in the story, Chingachgook, and Uncas.

Hawkeye represents the unity and combination of ideas and cultures. Marked as a hero in the story’s plot, Hawkeye depicts open-mindedness and adaptability to contrasting cultures, philosophies and idealism.

The Last of the Mohicans.

Chingachgook and his son Uncas are the only characters left that remain from the Mohican tribe, a group of American Indian people who are known for their nobility. During the last part of the story, Uncas died while fighting a battle against the Hurons, an enemy tribe.

His death is an allegory to the demise of the American Indians in the society. This is also symbolized by the massive death and persecution of the American Indian tribes during the 1800s.

Disguises.

The Last of the Mohicans portray plenty of disguises in its interwoven plot of escape, freedom and tribal battles. At one point in the story, Uncas was captured by the Huron tribe.In order to let save him from the hands of the enemies, Hawkeye went over to the lair of the Hurons wearing a disguise as a beaver.Hawkeye was also seen in the story wearing a disguise of a bear.

Though practically a joke on a reader’s point of view, the writer shows his amusing and comic side by playing with the characters and making them believe that a human wearing an animal costume can truly mimic the appearance, behavior, and ways of the character being impersonated.

Disguises are a way for the author to depict some realistic symbolism on how the society manage to fall for false appearances. On a deeper level, it also shows a rather unrealistic way of managing difficulties as people change external appearances in favor of which side brings them the most positive results, as seen by the main character’s ability to use disguises in escaping tight situations.

Cave.

In the story, the two women and the rest of the party set out to take refuge in the caves found on the Glenn’s Falls from which they were later on attacked by opposing tribes.Also, in another chapter, Mague uses the comfort of the caves as a means to hide the two women and escape capture from Hawkeye and his men.

The cave has served the main characters well during their escape from their followers. With its complex chambers and interwoven spaces, caves have served both the Mohicans and the Hurons in hiding and escaping from each other.

The cave depicts a place of comfort and security against the trials and tribulations faced by the society. It is a haven of protection where one can escape, hide and take cover when facing a difficult situation.

Waterfall.

In the early chapters of the story, the Glenn’s Falls is seen as the setting of a fight scene between Major Duncan Heyward and another warrior. The waterfall holds a symbol of unsteadiness and movement, which is relevant to the flow of the moving water. Hence, it is safe to say that waterfalls also symbolize change and an upcoming round of new experiences.

River.

The river symbolizes an unsteady place for hiding as it was used as a setting for Hawkeye and the Mohicans to escape the Hurons. However, some of the characters were captured along the way. Rivers represent a short-term refuge for comfort and safety.

Uncas.

Being the last line of the Mohican tribe, his death symbolizes the end of his clan’s race. On a general view, it portrays the end of the American Indian civilization.

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