Last of the Mohicans

Last of the Mohicans Summary and Analysis of Chapters 26-30

Chapter 26:


Hawkeye carefully makes his way back to the village. Looking into a lodge, he sees that it is the dwelling of David. He is alarmed by the appearance of a bear, but Hawkeye quickly makes him understand who the bear truly is. David asks for news of the others. Hawkeye says they are free, but for Uncas. He tells David to lead him to the young Mohican. The musician speaks to the guards of Uncas, asks whether or not they wish to see him cry and beg for mercy. He says that the conjurer has come to take the captive's courage, but that all the warriors must stand far away, lest their courage be taken as well. They enter the space, and see Uncas bound in a corner. Immediately he recognizes the animal conjurer as counterfeit. He turns away in disgust, but the hissing of the snake is made. Uncas utters the name "Hawkeye!" with surprise. David cuts the bands. From the costume Hawkeye hands a knife to Uncas. He says the Huron are outside; they must be ready. Uncas want to run to the neighboring tribe. Hawkeye knows he can never run fast enough‹he tells Uncas to go while he replaces the costume. Uncas wants to stay and fight with Hawkeye. The scout decides that the Mohican should put on the skin while he exchanges clothing with David. The musician declares he will sit in the place of Uncas, who has fought bravely on his behalf. Hawkeye says if he practiced a religion, he would wish to do it as well as David. Leaving the tent, the scout sings psalms and keeps time with his hand. The deceivers are clear of the village when a long cry is raised. Hawkeye tosses a hidden rifle to Uncas as he brandishes his own weapon. They run into the forest.


The plot is starting to move much quicker. We are heading towards something, but we are not sure what it is. There is much more dialogue in this chapter than there has been in the chapters more immediately preceding it. This changes the tone of the story greatly‹it is less reflective, more action-oriented. The plans being constantly arranged between characters create a feeling of suspense for the reader. This is the author's method of keep interest high, and it is appropriate that he change writing style slightly towards the end. It makes us eager for the conclusion.

David's role in rescuing the scout and the Mohican is the highlight of this chapter. His performance when speaking to the guards of Uncas is superb. Not a trace of fear is evident. The musician shows unprecedented cunning as he talks about the Delawares as women, and refers to Uncas by his hated name, Le Cerf Agile. He is more convincing and smooth than Duncan was. But nothing can prepare the reader for the moment he agrees to sit in the place of Uncas, that the other two men might escape. Freely he offers his life to the men who have fought bravely for him. David calmly states that he has never forgotten his faith in the Lord, "even in the greatest straits." Hawkeye, the man without a cross, gives him the highest compliment he can when he says that if he were religious, he would hope to practice as David does. Clearly the singer gathers a tremendous amount of courage and strength from Christianity. As the most openly religious character in the book, we can take David as a general symbol of religion. Cooper uses this character to explore the usefulness of Christian doctrine. Interestingly enough, he seems divided, not knowing whether to praise Christianity or condemn it. Until now, David has been little more than a clown, resulting in a very undignified, silly portrayal of the religion he so loves. Then, he becomes brave, even heroic. For the first time, David's Christianity has noble and practical use; it is certainly a worthy pursuit in the scout's eyes. It appears that Cooper is unwilling to completely insult the doctrine. Like anything, it has its good and bad points.

That the author writes about how Uncas immediately knows that Hawkeye is a fake bear for lack of proper bear skills shows that there is a division between the two; much as he tries, Hawkeye can never be a complete Mohican. But the fact that Uncas will not leave Hawkeye, who cannot run as fast as he, demonstrates that he reciprocates the scout's great love for him. He refers to Hawkeye as the brother of his father. To align someone with Chingachgook is the greatest show of respect possible for the young Mohican. When the two squeeze hands, it is a rare physical sign of affection. The comedy of the previous chapter continues as they escape from right under the noses of the guards. The Huron look more and more foolish.

As always, the writing is filled with much appeal to the senses. The author writes of the "darkness" and "coldness" that surrounds the two as they run towards the forest. Hawkeye speaks of the "devils following their scent" into the forest. Uncas calls the neighboring tribe "Tortoises." The diction creates an imagery that makes the reader feel like we are experiencing the flight first-hand.

Chapter 27:


Upon being discovered, David starts to sing loudly. The Huron let him be, but rouse the entire village. They wonder at the whereabouts of Magua. The real conjurer is found and tells his story. A group of warriors is selected to prosecute the investigation. Warriors are sent to the trail. The chief says that the young woman has died‹the Great Spirit is angry with his children. To everyone's surprise Magua appears, still partially bound. He is freed and his story told. At this moment the Huron's anger is so great, he could kill anyone. When all deceit is made completely clear, the tribe is in an uproar. Magua still thinks of personal interests. Without Alice, he does not have as much leeway over Cora, but he still has her as his prisoner. Using his superb oratory skills, he calms the crowd and is placed in control of the recovery effort. He returns to his lodge, but does not sleep; instead he sits in the corner and plots evil. Long before dawn, warriors arrive in his hut. They have weapons but are painted for peace. Magua intends to go to their allies and find the Delawares. A large beaver is present, which is taken as a good omen. The group departs. The beaver watches interestedly, and when the party has advanced into the wood, takes off a mask to reveal the features of Chingachgook.


It is important to note the manner in which the Huron react to the huge disappointment of losing practically all of their prisoners. There is no chaotic attempt to grab weapons and run after the escaped prisoners. Rather, the author writes: "Instead of rushing in a confused and disorderly throng to the cavern, ten of the wisest and firmest among the chiefs were selected to prosecute the investigation." This is a very reasonable way to handle the circumstances. This is a reminder to the reader that Indian cultures do not teach their warriors to be hot-headed and impulsive. A cool head makes for an even more wicked revenge. The lack of hostility is somewhat frightening; it is evident that the Huron are channeling all of their energies into punishing the foresters. Even Magua, who is indeed furious at their escape, does not handle the situation with anger: "MaguaŠnow changed his manner, and assumed the air of one who knoew how to think and act with a dignity worthy of so grave a subject." With incredible finesse, the Huron chief soothes his people, "flattering their self-love," and for that they put him in charge of the recovery effort. We have seen Magua the smooth politician before. The key to leadership in the Indian tribe is the confidence of those around you. Because the chief is a well-skilled orator, he can bend his peers to his will. The reader, knowing Magua as we do, however, must remember that his personal interests are always foremost. How much he cares about the pride of his people is not certain. More than anything he wants vengeance for personal wrongs on the foresters, and control over Cora as his wife. He dupes his own tribe more than he tricks anyone else in the novel because he is not honest about his agenda. This reveals in another way his seemingly inherent evil nature.

The appearance of Chingachgook in the guise of a beaver is surprising but not unexpected. The manner in which the foresters take on the look of animals recalls the theme of minimalism in these cultures. Deceits are carried out in simple ways, by taking advantage of the natural setting that surrounds the village. Obviously animals and animal costumes are a common sight the Huron; that is why Hawkeye and Chingachgook are so successful in their disguises. The less fancy the plans, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Chapter 28:


The half-tribe of Delawares is not too far from the Huron settlement. Magua reaches them and shows a gesture of amity. He is greeted as he makes many courteous signs of greeting. The wisest orator speaks to Magua and says he welcome to come into the main lodge and share the morning meal. The two warriors are accompanied by several old men. They enter the lodge and speak of the hunt that Magua made recently for the moose. The war activities of the Huron are discussed. Magua asks if Cora is any trouble; the Delaware chief says no. The Huron asks if strange feet have been seen in the woods. The Delaware provides an evasive answer. Magua is puzzled at his inability to penetrate this caution, but nonetheless presents the chief with gifts, trinkets plundered from females at William Henry. Everyone is most favorably impressed. Magua's welcome is restated with more enthusiasm. He asks again about strangers in the camp. The Delaware says that strangers are always welcome. Magua speaks of spies in his own camp who have fled to the Delaware as friends; thus the Delaware have turned from their "Canada father." The Delaware is calm as he says that they have not chosen to go on the warpath. Magua states that "La Longue Carabine" is in the camp at that moment. The news is spread throughout the settlement. The patriarch Tamenund enters the main lodge. The people in question have been found. A circle forms outside with Tamenund in the middle.


The ceremonial interaction that takes place between Magua and the neighboring Delaware tribe is very structured. Once again, the hierarchy of the tribe is preserved. While warriors gesture amicably to Magua, no one speaks to him except "their most approved orator." It is he who can invite the Huron chief to share the morning meal. Even though the rest of the tribe is dying to know the cause of such an unusual visit, they do not betray "the least impatience by sign or word." To express curiosity would be disrespectful, for that kind of interference would seem to question the ability of tribal leaders to do their job. The sharing of food is a symbolic action that is equated with friendship; the two are accompanied by several older men who seem to be both guests and advisors.

Magua is in rare form as he puts on his show for the Delaware leaders. For a man who has repeatedly said that the Delaware are women, he manages to pay them regal compliments by presenting them with trinkets stolen from corpses at William Henry. The origin of the objects is disgusting, and reminds us of the thievish streak that runs through the Huron. That the Delaware are so terribly impressed does not mark them to be as cunning as Magua is, though they are probably more honest. Magua is extremely crafty in his presentations, making sure that the best gifts go to the Delaware of highest rank. Those who do not receive such quality gifts are flattered with well-chosen compliments. Had president been a viable position in Indian tribes, Magua would have easily been the winner. While he frustrates the reader, we cannot help but admire at least slightly his ability to work those around him to his will. This quality, along with a somewhat cruel past, is what makes Magua an ideal villain. There are moments when we like him, moments when we hate him.

Despite their liking of Magua's gifts, it is commendable that the Delaware are reluctant to put complete faith in his words before they have a council meeting. Even after this, when the escaped prisoners have been found, a circle must form in the middle of village that is comprised of all its inhabitants. The wise Tamenund must control proceedings from the middle. He is described in terms of the wrinkles on his face, and the richness of his robes. Both of these things symbolize wisdom and respect. He is in the center because tradition mandates that the wisest are the most worthy make judgments. For this he is "revered," "loved" by his village. Routine and ceremony are always observed, especially in matters of life and death; the Indian cultures value this perhaps above all other concerns.

Chapter 29:


The prisoners walk into the circle. Cora and Alice's arms are entwined. Heyward accompanies them. Hawkeye is in the rear. Tamenund asks who is La Longue Carabine. Duncan tries to take on that persona at first. Hawkeye steps forward, says his kin name is Nathaniel, and Hawkeye is a compliment of the Delaware. Tamenund asks Magua who is the snake who crept into the camp. Magua points at the scout. Duncan says he is a liar. The men are given guns and made to shoot so as to decide who is the infamous rifleman. The task is to break a gourd. Hawkeye is established as the man. Magua makes a speech to the assembly about the greatness of the Delaware people. Tamenund listens and pronounces that Magua can leave with all of those who are his. The Huron looks greedily at Cora. She throws herself at the feet of the old Delaware, begging for mercy. Tamenund's vacant expression becomes admiring. She asks him if he is a father; she wants nothing for herself, only for Alice to be returned to Munro. Tamenund states that the pale-faces are proud and hungry. Cora says there is one of the Delaware who has not yet been heard, who must speak. The old Delaware says to bring him into the circle.


The most touching displays in this chapter are the courageous stands made by both Duncan and Cora. Heyward has no real need to throw himself into further peril‹Alice is not the one being threatened. Yet he comes to the aid of Hawkeye as if he were a brother. His efforts to "cloak his invaluable friend" are futile but worthwhile. This is the manner in which Duncan is repaying his gratitude. The reader is happy to see this, for it allows everyone present to recognize the greatness of the deeds that Hawkeye and his friends have performed for the travelers. Moving further out from the individual persons, we can see this action as a symbolic unity between European and Indian, even though both men are technically white. For when Duncan tries to save Hawkeye, he is also trying to help the Mohicans. This pair has managed to transcend the prejudices that others cannot. The image of Cora prostrate on the ground, begging for the life of her sister, is not only noble; it is a display of subservience, white begging Indian for favors. That Cora will beg Tamenund and the Delaware for help while she scorns Magua and the Huron indicates that she is among the people who see a tremendous difference in the natures of the tribes. We are supposed to take this as a sign of Delaware superiority, and we do.

Magua's extensive oratory skills are more explicitly revealed. He speaks exclusively of the Great Spirit who made men and colored them differently. The tone is of one telling a legend, so lush is the imagery and simile, nature and otherwise. Constantly he is comparing the Indians to various animals. Because these cultures value nature so highly, there can be no better compliment. He then makes reference to the greatness of the Delaware ancestors, the Lenni Lenape, and compliments Tamenund by saying he has been there to see everything. Magua is there to seek justice. The reader can almost take this speech to heart, it is so convincing. But more than convincing, it is infuriating, because we know that most of it is insincere. Magua is saying the right things so that his prisoners will be returned to him. That we know this, and the Delaware do not, is an instance of dramatic irony.

The author also illustrates the extent of Hawkeye's performance skills. It is obvious how much enmity exists between the Huron chief and the scout. Yet Hawkeye, even with a gun in his hand, tells Magua that he will not shoot him because the color of his skin forbids it. It is an insult for a white man to shoot an Indian. Again, the reader sees through this ruse, knows that it is a speech to impress the Delaware. Hawkeye has already tried to shoot Magua, and he would do so again. We do not condemn his insincerity, however, because of the terrible wrongs Magua has incited on the travelers.

Chapter 30:


The multitude stands aside, and Uncas walks into the throng. He is deliberate and waits respectfully at the foot of the patriarch until he is noticed. Tamenund asks what tongue he speaks. Uncas states it is the language of the Delaware. The old chief speaks angrily of the young Mohican for entering the camp by stealth; he believes that Uncas is a false Delaware. Uncas incites much anger as he tells the assembly that they are dogs who whine when the Frenchmen offer the "offals of deer." Tamenund is angry and says that the people may do what they want with the Mohican. While the rest of his friends look anxious, Uncas stays perfectly calm. Warriors rush at him, and one tears off his hunting shirt. Suddenly they stop, looking in wonderment at the tortoise tattooed in blue ink on his chest‹a symbol of his heritage. Tamenund asks urgently who he is. Upon finding that Chingachgook is his father, he rejoices that Uncas has been found and brought back to his people. He and his father are members of the "unchanged race."

Uncas crosses to Hawkeye and cuts his bonds. He introduces him as a friend, who must be welcome among the Delaware if Uncas himself is welcome. Tamenund says the scout has killed many of the tribe. Hawkeye speaks up to say that this is a lie; he has never knowingly harmed a Delaware, only the Huron. Uncas says that all should be allowed to leave. On the question of Cora, however, he is silent. Magua shouts that she belongs to him, that Uncas knows this. The young Mohican quietly says that it is so. Cora is ordered to depart with Magua. Heyward springs forward and begs the Huron to be merciful. Magua refuses any promises of riches. Cora is his revenge. Hawkeye steps forward and offers to put away his gun for the season if Cora is released. He offers to train Magua's men. Magua will hear none of it. Hawkeye tells Uncas of the love he has for his father and himself. He says that he must die at some point, and leaves the Mohican his gun. He offers himself to Magua as a prisoner. The Huron almost accepts, but says that he has but one mind. Cora turns to the scout and praises him for his generosity. She makes a tearful goodbye to Heyward and Alice, and turns to leave. Duncan yells that he will find Magua. The Huron smirks and challenges Uncas and the Delaware to pursue him. He leaves freely, protected by the laws of Indian hospitality.


The greatness of Uncas is finally revealed as he comes into the center of the circle. He is not forced forward, but walks confidently and calmly. Even before his identity is known, the throng is "bent in secret admiration on the erect, agile, faultless person." He moves like one who has been trained extensively, yet the moves are so natural. The impressiveness of this figure comes because of what he does not do. He never shouts to be heard or resists when they place their hands on him. To do so would be to sink to their level of confusion, which Uncas will never do. There is a royalty about his carriage as the image of the noble savage is recalled.

Cooper briefly addresses two themes: those of language and death. When the Delaware hear that Uncas speaks in their tongue, they are outraged that one of their own would presume to sneak into their village. Language is a clear symbol of unity, and Uncas cannot be an honest man if he needs to hide in the village. Even more, their language is repeatedly described as "musical." To taint something so traditionally beautiful is a terrible insult. When Uncas adds insult to injury and calls the Delaware whining dogs, he is sentenced to death. The author writes "a cry of vengeance burst at onceŠthe circle broke its order, and screams of delight mingled with the bustle and tumult of preparation." The joy that the tribe takes in the impending death of Uncas recalls the fury of the Huron when they also were going to kill him. Clearly, no matter how peace-loving, an Indian tribe will rejoice in the painful deaths of those who cross them. Death is a spectacle for the village, a means of teaching by cruel example what behavior is unacceptable.

White men can beg, but the Indian gets results. As soon as the Delaware learn that Uncas is a Mohican, they rejoice and treat him as if he is a great leader who has been with them for ages. The importance of filial piety, a major theme in the undertones of the novel, is certain as Uncas calls himself "son of Chingachgook." Even the great Tamenund, who has been mostly impassive during the time we have seen him, expresses openly his overwhelming emotions. Uncas is able to cut the binds of Hawkeye and free Alice and Duncan with only a few words. His position in the tribe gives him impenetrable authority. This is the most decisive example of tribal hierarchy that we have seen.

Uncas becomes even more noble when he admits to Tamenund that, by all Indian customs, Cora belongs to Magua. We know that he cares for her, but he cannot lie. The reader can only imagine his inner struggle. He refuses to dishonor himself and his people with dishonesty, however, and for this we must admire him. Hawkeye also becomes a noble savage as he offers his life to Magua for Cora's freedom. We understand that the Delaware will not assault one who is visiting their village, but we get the sense that they would like to renounce that law for a few moments. The words of Uncas act as a cry for war. His time to prove himself has arrived.