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MonkeyNotes-The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
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Chapter 9

Summary

There is a strange calm as Duncan decides to conceal the group in the cavern. Alice is near hysterical. David starts to sing "Isle of Wight" tremulously. Cora feels it is dangerous but Duncan says that David is too feeble to be heard. Suddenly a yell emits the air. The Hurons have entered the island very close to the caverns. There is a lot of noise. A triumphant yell signals that the Hurons have found the cavern. Many voices shout "La Longue Carabine!" (The Long Rifle), Hawkeye's name amongst the French-speaking Indians. Duncan prepares to protect the women and David from the Hurons as the natives come closer and closer. They miss the concealed cavern entrance, however. Duncan begins to think they might be safe, and both he and Cora sigh with relief. Just as Alice is about to say a prayer of gratitude, Magua appears at the other entrance. Duncan fires, but Magua escapes and lets out a yell. Hurons enter from both sides of the cave and drag the entire party outside.


Notes

The author's masterful description of the cavern can be seen here. He seems to know the lay of the land, which is powerfully depicted in each of the chapters of this novel. This chapter brings out the contrast between the two sisters. Alice comes across as a weak and sentimental girl who is always in need of help. Although one does not see much of Cora in the present action, she remains a strong character, as was seen in her decision in the previous chapter. There has been a progressive rising action in all the chapters of the book so far, but in this chapter the suspense has reached a zenith point. David Gamut's singing of "Isle of Wight," especially the final notes of his song, adds to the suspense. Magua finding Duncan and the women is almost like an anti-climax.

Cooper continually extends the dramatic tension through minor victories and defeats, a common conceit of sentimental fiction. Though he balances the wins and losses between the Hurons and the group, he does not give either side a complete success. Though most of the group has been captured, the Hurons have still not been able to capture Hawkeye and the Mohicans. Their escape will ensure that the parties get to stage another series of dramatic clashes, near-captures, and rescues.

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