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MonkeyNotes-The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
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Chapter 12

Summary

The Hurons are aghast at the loss of a man. They cry out "La Longue Carabine," "Le Cerf Agile," and "Le Gros Serpent." The parties fall upon each other and begin fighting hand-to-hand. One savage throws an axe at Cora, which cuts her bonds, and Uncas rushes to help her. All the Hurons are killed, except for Magua, who plays dead and then manages to run away. To ensure that all the other Hurons are dead, Hawkeye begins stabbing each of their bodies in the chest. Meanwhile, Chingachgook begins scalping the dead. The remaining prisoners are freed, and Hawkeye explains to Gamut how he recovered his rifle from the Hurons, who had left the weapons stashed too far away. Gamut praises God and the Calvinist philosophy of predestination, by which the "saved will be saved" and the "damned will be damned." Hawkeye discounts this belief as being without proof. Gamut asks him where in scripture he has proof for this heresy, and Hawkeye replies that he requires only one book for his beliefs, the book of nature.

The party then continues their journey, and Hawkeye explains to Duncan how he and the Mohicans had secretly tracked them and the Hurons. They stop at a mineral spring to have their meal and then proceed towards Fort William Henry.


Notes

The parties engage in fierce hand-to-hand combat. Hawkeye, known amongst the Hurons as "La Longue Carabine," has an enviable reputation as a killer. Chingachgook, known as "Le Gros Serpent" (The Great Snake) and Uncas, known as "Le Cerf Agile" (The Nimble Deer), also have reputations as dangerous enemies. The Indian practice of giving several names to one person extends to tribes. The Hurons are known amongst the Mohicans as Mingos, and the Mohicans also call themselves Delawares.

Hawkeye self-mockingly calls himself a "man without a cross." Nature and the experience of life in the wilderness are the only authorities he recognizes. He dismisses Gamut's faith and equally deep praise as mere trifles, and suggests to him that he trade in his "little tooting instrument" for a rifle. To Hawkeye, practicality is what matters. While he agrees with Gamut that the enemy was fated to die, he believes that the enemies' mistakes and his own party's readiness, bravery, and skill were responsible for the happy outcome.

In this chapter, Cooper highlights the developing relationship between Uncas and Cora. Instead of scalping the dead, he rushes to the women. After freeing Alice, he returns her to Cora and then watches over Cora with concern.

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