What is the theme of the book The Last of the Mohicans?

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erozmiarek eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Last of the Mohicans is one of five novels written by James Fenimore Cooper, which collectively are referred to as The Leatherstocking Tales.  Many people (wrongfully, in my opinion) dismiss these books as simplistic action stories with little character development and little analytical theme material.  In fact, I see several themes running through The Last of the Mohicans, as well as the other four Leatherstocking novels.

It is impossible to consider any novel that deals with westward expansion and colonization without considering the theme of clashing cultures, and the destruction of the culture of the Native Americans.  The novel, quite literally, is about the end of the Mohican tribe, when Uncas, the son of the last chief, is killed.  Even before this, we see the decay of the tribe through the encroaching involvement of the white people. 

We also see the theme of the importance of heredity, family heritage, and obligations.  Uncas, as the "last of the Mohicans," receives the leadership of the tribe from his father Chingachgook, along with the responsibilities that accompany it. 

Kathryn Draney eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • The themes of the book The Last of the Mohicans include the clashing of Western and Native American cultures, and the importance of family loyalty and heritage.
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The Last of the Mohicans

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