Homework Help

What does Twain say about Cooper's depiction of Native Americans in "Fenimore...

user profile pic

bellkaty | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 21, 2008 at 10:50 AM via web

dislike 0 like

What does Twain say about Cooper's depiction of Native Americans in "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:37 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

In his critique of Cooper's writings, Twain accuses him of using too many stereotypes and repeating the same plot devices. For instance, he says that whenever Cooper has one character try to track or secretly follow another, he dresses them in moccasins and had the tracker follow in the other man's footsteps. Twain says of this, "Cooper wore out barrels and barrels of moccasins in working that trick." Or whenever a character is in danger and silence is necessary, invariably that character will step on a dry twig. He says that "the Leather Stocking Series ought to have been called the Broken Twig Series."

As for Cooper's depiction of Native Americans, Twain accuses him of giving them almost supernatural powers, as when Chingachook loses the trail of a person he is tracking. Twain notes that Cooper has the indian change the course of a stream to discover the man's footprints, which the water did not wash away: "even the eternal laws of Nature have to vacate when Cooper wants to put up a delicate job of woodcraft on the reader." In another instance, Cooper has a character bend a "sapling" so that 6 indians can hide in its foliage.

Twain concludes that Cooper "was almost always in error about his Indians. There was seldom a sane one among them."

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes