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MonkeyNotes-The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
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Chapter 26

Summary

Still in disguise, Hawkeye meets David in a neglected hut in the village and reveals himself to him. He tells him that Duncan and Alice are free and asks him to lead him to Uncas. At the lodge where Uncas is being held, they gain entry by having Gamut tell the guards that the "conjurer," dressed as a bear, wishes to breathe on the prisoner and thus weaken him.

Once inside, they cut Uncas' bonds. Hawkeye gives Uncas his bearskin and puts on David's clothes. They then leave David in Uncas' place. He plans to escape by singing when he is discovered. As Uncas and Hawkeye reach the woods they hear a loud cry, which is an indication that David has been caught. After taking their guns from their hiding place, they rush to the neighboring village.


Notes

David, as usual, is all set to eliminate evil and reform the world. When faced with the bear, the simple man tries to exorcise it. He then discovers that it is actually Hawkeye in disguise. Though David is somewhat simple, with only prayer in his mind, he too displays rare courage by offering to take the place of Uncas in order to deceive the Indians.

The contrast in worldviews between David and Hawkeye is again brought out. When Hawkeye promises to revenge David's death on the off chance that he is killed, David begs Hawkeye to instead forgive his killers. This gives Hawkeye pause. To his credit, Hawkeye considers this view, saying though it violates the "law of the woods," it is a noble idea that would be worth considering in different times and circumstances.

As usual, the Hurons, seeing the bear, are wary of it, without realizing that it is a deception. This entire book emphasizes the use of totems and disguises. In this chapter, Hawkeye disguises himself as a bear. In the next chapter, Chingachgook disguises himself as a beaver. So there is a frequent use of animal disguises, which fool both Indians and whites, though perhaps not always for the same reasons. Although the author has spoken of the keen eye for details of the Indians, they are fooled by Hawkeye and Chingachgook's mastery over disguises.

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