The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans Summary

Major Duncan Heyward attempts to escort Cora and Alice Munro from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry, where their father is Colonel. A deceitful Huron named Magua leads them through the woods. When the group meets a woodsman named Hawkeye, it becomes clear that Magua is leading them into a trap.

  • Hawkeye agrees to lead the party to safety. That night, they camp in a cave, only to be surprised by Magua and his Huron allies. Hawkeye and his Mohican friends Uncas and Chingachgook flee down the river in a canoe. Heyward, Cora, and Alice are captured.
  • Heyward tries to convince Magua to betray the Hurons and take the party to Colonel Munro. Magua agrees on the condition that he be allowed to take Cora as his bride. Cora refuses. Soon after, Hawkeye and his friends attack the Hurons, rescuing the party.
  • Hawkeye leads the party to Fort William Henry, which is currently under siege. When the English are defeated, Colonel Munro and his daughters are forced to march back to Fort Edward. On the way, Magua kidnaps Cora. Hawkeye tracks them to a Huron camp. In the end, Magua, Cora, and Uncas are killed in a bloody battle. Chingachgook is now the last of the Mohicans.

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Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Major Duncan Heyward has been ordered to escort Cora and Alice Munro from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry, where the young women’s father, Colonel Munro, is commandant. Also in the party is David Gamut, a Connecticut singing master. On their way to Fort William Henry, they do not follow the military road through the wilderness. Instead, they place themselves in the hands of a renegade Huron known as Magua, who claims that he can lead them to their destination by a shorter trail.

It is afternoon when the little party meets the woodsman Hawkeye and his Delaware Mohican friends Chingachgook and his son Uncas. To their dismay, they learn that they are but an hour’s distance from their starting point. Hawkeye deduces that Magua has been planning to lead the party into a trap. His Mohican comrades try to capture the renegade, but Magua flees into the woods. At Heyward’s urging, Hawkeye agrees to guide the travelers to their destination. After the horses are tied and hidden among rocks along a river, Hawkeye produces a hidden canoe from among the bushes and paddles the party to a rock at the foot of Glenn’s Falls. There they prepare to spend the night in a cave.

That night, the party is surprised by a band of Iroquois led by Magua. Hawkeye, Heyward, and the rest might have a chance of victory, but unfortunately their ammunition, which was left in the canoe, has been stolen by one of the enemy. Their only hope then lies in the possibility of future rescue, for the capture of the little group is a certainty. Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas escape by floating downstream, leaving the Munro sisters and Major Heyward to meet the savages.

Captured, Cora and Alice are allowed to ride their horses, but their captors force Heyward and David to walk. Although they take a road paralleling the one that leads to Fort William Henry, Heyward cannot determine the destination the Indians have in mind. Drawing close to Magua, he tries to persuade him to betray his companions and deliver the party safely to Colonel Munro. The Huron agrees on the condition that Cora be given to him to live with him among his tribe as his wife. When she refuses, the enraged Magua has everyone bound. He is threatening Alice with his tomahawk when Hawkeye and his friends creep up silently on the band and attack. The Iroquois flee, leaving several of their dead behind. The party, under David’s guidance, sings a hymn of thanksgiving and then pushes onward.

Toward evening, they stop at a deserted blockhouse to rest. Many years before, it had been the scene of a fight between the Mohicans and the Mohawks, and a mound still shows where bodies lay buried. While Chingachgook keeps watch, the others sleep, and then at moonrise they continue on their way. It is dawn when Hawkeye and his charges draw...

(The entire section is 2,433 words.)