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MonkeyNotes-The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
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Chapter 3

Summary

This scene shifts to a different group of men. Elsewhere in the forest, two men who appear to be waiting for someone or something are talking. The first is a white man with a muscular torso. He wears a hunting shirt and a summer cap made of skins and bears a knife in a girdle of wampum around his waist. The second man is an Indian, nearly naked, tattooed with "emblems of death." He has a tomahawk and a scalping knife. They are having a serious discussion about their forefathers and the Indian tells the story of how the white man came and corrupted the Indians with their firewater. Their names are revealed here: the white man is Hawkeye and the other is Chingachgook. Chingachgook tells Hawkeye that his son, Uncas, is the last of the Mohicans. At this, Uncas appears. A youthful, regal Indian, he has skills and talents befitting the best of hunters and trackers. He tells them that he has been trailing the Maquas, or Iroqouis, his people's enemies, for a long time.

Hawkeye sees a deer and is about to shoot it, but Uncas warns him that the sound will attract the enemy. Uncas then cunningly and silently approaches the animal and kills it for their evening meal. Suddenly Chingachgook hears the sound of horses but Hawkeye cannot hear anything.


Notes

This chapter, set in another part of the woods, introduces three more characters. Two of them are familiar; that is, they are familiar if the reader is familiar with other works by James Fenimore Cooper. Hawkeye (or Natty Bumppo) and Chingachgook have been serialized in several of the author's books. This chapter not only shows the close ties of these characters as they discuss familiar subjects but also shows the knowledge of the author about Indian customs and the historical background of America. It also depicts his sympathy for the Indians who were colonized and driven off their lands by European settlers. Cooper depicts his Indians as having keen senses and extensive skills. Hawkeye, for all his woodcraft, cannot match them; he cannot hear the horses, whereas Chingachgook can.

In this chapter, Uncas, the "last of the Mohicans," is introduced. Though he has a very quiet presence, it should be remembered that the theme of the book revolves around his title.

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