The Last of the Mohicans, the second of the Leatherstocking Tales published and also the second in the hero’s chronology, picks up the story of Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook in 1757, some fourteen years later. In this, the most popular of the quintet, the scene has moved northward in New York State to Glen Falls and Lake George. The plot centers on a true historical event, the British surrender of Fort William Henry to the French and their massacre by Indians immediately following. Cooper explores the themes of miscegenation, the expansion of America, and the decline of the Indians’ power and domain. Although the story is based on fact, Cooper fictionally realigns the Indians’ true historical alliances to the French and English in order to suit his storytelling needs.
The Last of the Mohicans is first and foremost an adventure story in the tradition of the historical romance. The Delaware are the good Indians; the Huron/Mingoes, treacherous. While Natty, now known as Hawkeye, and Chingachgook remain the moral center of the book, Cooper offers two new creations in his good-evil dichotomy. Uncas, the son of Chingachgook and Hist (who has died), is a living example of physical and moral perfection. Ironically (and appropriately) Uncas’s death occurs because he violates his noble instincts and rushes ahead of the rescue party to save Cora, the woman he loves.
Like The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans is a pursuit, capture, and escape story. Hawkeye spends most of the novel...
(The entire section is 631 words.)