Essential Passage 1: Chapter 7
The manner of the scout was seriously impressive, though no longer distinguished by any signs of unmanly apprehension. It was evident that his momentary weakness had vanished with the explanation of a mystery which his own experience had not served to fathom; and that though he now felt all the realities of their actual condition, he was prepared to meet them with the energy of his hard nature.
Hawkeye and his Native American companions Chingachgook and his son Uncas are accompanying the British soldier Heyward to Fort William Henry, where he will deliver to the commander of the fort his daughters, Cora and Alice Munro. Having been deserted by another Indian guide, Magua, the company hides in a cave for protection. While in this shelter, they hear a heartrending scream. Not sure what the sound betokens, the party is frightened. Hawkeye himself is shaken. However, when it is determined that the scream was that of a horse, his courage returns. He admits to the others that they have been like hunters who have lost their way because the stars and the sun have been hidden, but now he recognizes the signs of the trail. It was only because this horse’s scream was unfamiliar to him from his past experiences that Hawkeye was wary of their course. Now that he has a clear view of what lies ahead of them, his certainty and self-assuredness is present once again.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 12
“Book!” repeated Hawk-eye, with singular and ill-concealed disdain. “Do you take me for a whimpering boy at the apron string of one of your old gals; and this good rifle on my knee for the feather of a goose’s wing, my ox’s horn for a bottle of ink, and my leathern pouch for a crossbarred handkercher to carry my dinner? Books! What have such as I, who am a warrior of the wilderness, though a man without a cross, to do with books? I never read but in one, and the words that are written there are too simple and too plain to need much schooling; though I may boast of the forty long and hard-working years.”
“What call you the volume?” said David, misconceiving the other’s meaning.
“ ‘Tis open before your eyes,” returned the scout; “and he who owns it is not a niggard of its use. I have heard it said that there are men who read in books to convince themselves there is a God. I know not but man may so deform his works in the settlements, as to leave that which is so clear in the wilderness a matter of doubt among traders and priests. If any such there be, and he will follow me from sun to sun, through the windings of the forest, he shall see enough to teach him that he is a fool, and that the greatest of his folly lies in striving to rise to the level of One he can never equal, be it in goodness, or be it in power.”
Hawkeye and his companions have rescued Cora and Gamut from the Hurons. David Gamut, who is a psalmodist, or teacher of hymn-singing, discusses with Hawkeye the doctrine of predestination, which states that people are chosen for either heaven or hell before birth, and that no effort on their part can change their destination. Hawkeye has misgivings about this doctrine, especially as it applies to the Indians. Gamut challenges Hawkeye to prove his viewpoint with reference to books. Hawkeye asks Gamut if he thinks that he, Hawkeye, is a school boy, carrying his school supplies through the forest. He expresses his contempt for books as proof of doctrine, except for one book that is “too simple and too plain to...
(The entire section is 1513 words.)