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MonkeyNotes-The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
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Chapter 4

Summary

Hawkeye meets Duncan's party, which has gotten lost. Hawkeye is amused but amazed that an Indian guide has lost his way. He finds out that the Indian is a Huron and says that Hurons are not to be trusted. He suspicious of the whole party and refuses to give them directions, until Major Heyward formally introduces himself.

Hawkeye inspects Magua and announces him to be a criminal. He suggest shooting Magua in the leg and thus disabling him for a time, but Duncan will not allow it. Hawkeye then suggests that Duncan talk to Magua while Chingachgook and Uncas, whom Magua has not seen, sneak into the forest to seize him. Duncan says that he will seize Magua himself, but Hawkeye answers that he would not stand a chance.

Duncan explains to Magua that since they are lost, the scout will lead them to a resting-place till morning. Magua is angry and threatens to leave. He now uses his Canadian name, Le Renard Subtil (The Subtle Fox), to refer to himself. Major Duncan asks him how will he face Munro after abandoning his daughters, and Magua answers that Munro will not be able find him. Duncan dismounts and, under the pretense of trying to appease Magua with presents, attempts to seize him. But Magua knocks his arm away and runs off into the forest. Chingachgook and Uncas appear and chase Magua. Immediately the sharp report of Hawkeye's rifle is heard.


Notes

An Indian losing his way! In this chapter, Hawkeye scoffs at the very idea. Immediately the subdued signs of suspense and disquiet start to show loudly and clearly. Hawkeye, with his experience with the natives, is further concerned when he is told that the Indian is a Huron. Hurons, he claims, are a "thieving bunch." Most Indian tribes have reputations of being honest, scrupulous, and brave, but there were some tribes like the Hurons who are not to be trusted, at least in the estimation of their enemies, the Mohicans, with whom Hawkeye strongly identifies. Hawkeye, with his vast experience, immediately feels something is definitely amiss.

Hawkeye, of course, is still a frontier man, and, despite his deep association with the natives, is still an English scout. He is deeply impressed by Duncan Heyward's designation as a Major. But surprisingly, it will be Uncas who, in the next chapter, urges Hawkeye to volunteer as a guide for the group. This shows Uncas' noble and chivalrous characteristics.

In this chapter, Magua, uses the name his "Canadian fathers" have given him, Le Renard Subtil. The use of French-Canadian names was common at the time. They were generally a descriptive in nature, so that a man might have both a French name and an English or Indian one. In this chapter, there is also a passing reference to Montcalm, the French commander.

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