James Fenimore Cooper

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What is a summary of James Fenimore Cooper's The Eclipse?

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In The Eclipse, Cooper tells the story of the total eclipse of the sun that occurred in his village on Lake Otsego on June 16, 1806. He describes the rising excitement as the moment of the eclipse grows nearer and the mid-day skies darken. Gradually, the moon and fifty stars become visible, while the sun is more and more blotted out.

In the midst of this occurrence, a school teacher convicted of murder is brought shackled and miserable from his dungeon to face execution. As the narrator watches this man, he feels that the man, so soon scheduled to die, perceives the eclipse with a spiritual intensity denied to the rest of them.

Fortunately, the condemned man gets a stay of execution, but the speaker experiences more wonder as birds and cows, deceived by the growing darkness, behave as if it is night.

For three minutes, the sun is blotted out and darkness falls. The moon shows in a more vivid way than usual. The speaker is filled with a sense of awe and humility.

Overall, even after the sun returns, the narrator is left with a strong sensation of the power and presence of God. This sensation, brought on by the eclipse, has stayed with him for many years.

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