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Last Updated on September 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 451

Although it takes place in the bustling city of Rome and features a number of minor characters, Bernard Malamud’s “The Last Mohican” focuses on the development of a relationship between two characters in particular. It is the relationship between the two that drives the story above all else.

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Arthur Fidelman

Fidelman can be read as something of a frustrating character, given his stubborn resistance to what Malamud implies through the figure of Susskind to be his true identity and moral responsibility. His resistance is also understandable, however, given the carefully constructed identity he has presented to the world up until his arrival in Rome. His initial suspicion of Susskind as being in search of a handout, and his assertion in their subsequent conversation that he feels no responsibility for his fellow man, are both subverted throughout the course of the work, as demonstrated by his increasing kindness toward and emotional investment in Susskind. He first gives the other man a dollar, later five dollars, and finally an overcoat. When Susskind steals Fidelman’s manuscript on Giotto and the pursuer becomes the pursued, Fidelman has come to realize that his desire to catch Susskind is not just about recovering his manuscript, but also about better understanding the truth that the other man has begun revealing to him. Over the course of his search, he passes through various settings and situations synonymous with the European Jewish ghetto in the post-war years. During this pursuit, he also encounters evidence of the recent war and the impact it has had on other Jewish people. The reader is led to assume that the final realization he experiences in Saint Peter’s Basilica is due to the lessons he learned while...

(The entire section contains 451 words.)

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