Last of the Mohicans

Last of the Mohicans Summary and Analysis of Chapters 21-25

Chapter 21:


The group has landed in the region between Champlain and the Hudson. They are making a laborious hike into the wilderness, guided only by a star. Eventually they stop and camp. The foresters sleep, so Duncan and Munro do the same. Once light reappears, they continue the journey. Hawkeye often stops to confer with Chingachgook. Uncas stands, a silent but interested listener. The seniors must run the expedition. The old Mohican is not sure they have taken the right path. Uncas makes an examination when he is questioned, and ascertains that they are on the right path. They are convinced that Magua has gone through valleys. There are false trails, but they are not deceived. Uncas is in front, but he is always consulting with his father and the scout. At one point they stop to redraw the trail. Leaves are overturned, sticks removed. Uncas utters a cry of "exultation" as he finds the heavy print of David concealed beneath grass and sticks. The scout believes that David was forced to walk first, and everyone has trod in his footsteps. The group walks on, pausing to make sure they are going the right way. The foresters feel that the women are being carried, but they do not know how. After finding some small moccasin prints, they conclude that the sisters were carried for part of the way. The men stop for a meal. Afterwards Hawkeye pushes forward with renewed vigor. He begins to scent the Huron. The three foresters split in three directions. Munro and Heyward remain with the scout. Through the thicket, the men see the encampment; it is a village full of earthen dwellings. A tall stranger comes away from the villages and nears the thicket that conceals the scout and his friends. Hawkeye looks at him and says he is not a Huron. They cannot see that the man has any arms. Hawkeye decides to surprise him. Duncan stands ready to shoot if necessary. The scout nears the stranger, stops, and starts to laugh. It is David, the song master.


The thoroughness of the Mohicans and the scout is laudable. They proceed very carefully to make sure that their trail is correct. With every step Hawkeye becomes "more deliberate and watchful." He consults Chingachgook frequently, which credits him as knowing the limits of his white senses. Although he would also like to ask Uncas, the countenance of the young man shows that he is wholly depending on his father. Even though Uncas spots a trail rather quickly, he refrains from speaking until Chingachgook has had his say. The actions of both younger men indicate the tremendous respect for the old Mohican. It is important to notice that Chingachgook does not speak frequently in the novel; but when he does speak, he speaks profoundly, without wasting words. He is asked for advice when the outcome of the task is crucial, a means of life and death. That he is playing such a large role in blazing the trail indicates how critical this quest is. We wonder at the whereabouts of the sisters, and hope that they are not harmed.

When Duncan sees that Uncas was withholding information, he is annoyed at him. Then Hawkeye steps in and speaks about the differences in white and Indian knowledge. To the Europeans, books contain all that they need know. To the Indians, however, experience is the only teacher. Heyward, who surely must know little about finding a trail, has no real right to speak against anything that the Mohicans do. But as always, he seems to believe that he can improve upon their ways. The soldier is merely demonstrating his misunderstanding of the Indian culture. His attitude, though understandable under the stressful circumstances, is a partial indicator of the larger intolerance that Europeans manifest towards the native citizens of this new country.

Uncas's role is very important in this expedition. Hawkeye compliments him numerous times, saying that he will be "an honor to his people." Once we cross into enemy territory, we know that his time to fully prove himself is steadily approaching.

David's appearance at the end of the section is comical and almost unbelievable. We wonder how he could have met themŠ

Chapter 22:


Heyward is, expectantly, surprised at the recent turn of events. He runs forward to join David and Hawkeye. They envelope the musician in a hugging-dance. David informs them that the two sisters are captives; that Magua is away, hunting with his younger men. Cora is with a neighboring people, while Alice is among the women of the Huron. Duncan rejoices at this news. David says he is free to move about as he likes because the Indians were impressed by his song on the field of battle. They seem to believe he is a bit loony. The scout laughs at this. David quickly relates the events since their capture: Magua waited on the mountain until a safe moment was presented, and then began a route towards the Canadas. The captives were well-cared for. The Mohicans rejoin the group. Hawkeye asks about the pictures in the war-paint of the neighboring tribe. David describes the animal as a cross between a serpent and a tortoise. The Mohicans exclaim, and the scout shakes his head in a disgruntled manner. Chingachgook reveals a similar animal on his chest. He says his tribe is high chief to these peoples, which may prove to be good or bad amongst the people who hold Cora. Hawkeye decides that David should go back to the village as if nothing is wrong. Heyward resolves to go with him, in the guise of a juggler with Indian paint who has been wandering among neighboring tribes. The scout objects at first, but lets it be when he sees that Duncan will not change his mind. Munro and Chingachgook are to go to the neighboring people to rescue Cora; Duncan and David will work to free Alice. The other two will remain in the forest. Emergency calls are discussed. They all part.

Alone with David, Heyward feels apprehensive. The fading light increases the gloom of the wilderness. They approach the village from a slight elevation. David speaks of the "devil children" as they approach the "tents of the Philistines."


For all that has happened, David remains the most unchanged character in whole story. In a place where he does not belong, he nonetheless winds up out of harm's way. The fact that this is all accidental, related solely to his singing, is what provides the comic relief at this critical moment. The author's choice to mingle comedy and drama is not altogether strange. The comic character of David balances out the more serious characters like the foresters. His existence is what allows the reader to see the novel as a fantastic fairy-adventure tale as opposed to a more historical tale. All are glad to see him. More than anything he is a child who needs their help, part of the package that they want to rescue. Their allegiance to him is fortunate, for most of the time, David seems a little too flaky to really survive the harsh circumstances. Interestingly enough, his manner of little resistance has Indian origins. Perhaps he survives because he does not provoke attack by trying to escape. Indeed, we must wonder if he even cares to escape‹he is not so vehement about it as are the sisters and Duncan.

Nevertheless, David's appearance ensures an entry into the village. It is ironic that having so little skill for cunning tasks, he will now have to play a huge role in Alice's rescue. Heyward accompanying him improves matters a bit, but not too much. The overall plan of pretending to be a lost juggler seems extremely farfetched, and it is unlikely that two men unused to deceiving Indian eyes will be able to succeed. The fact that Heyward is willing to wear paint illustrates how desperate he is to infiltrate this village. The lines drawn upon him become symbols of acceptance of Indian culture. Duncan's only hope is that Magua is conveniently not present. This plot twist is also somewhat unbelievable‹would this fierce warrior leave his village when he knows that the foresters will try to rescue the women? But we can humor the author's whims.

The knowledge of Chingachgook's symbol on the chests of the neighboring tribe is a clever foreshadowing device. Clearly they are partial relatives. Such ties have great importance in the Indian cultures. At the same time, if they hold Cora, they are friendly to the Huron. We wait with anticipation to see what side these people will choose.

Chapter 23:


A group of children are the first to notice Duncan and David. They raise a warning yell. A dozen warriors are stirred into action. They stand in front of a central lodge and await the arrival of the strangers. Duncan strives to look unconcerned; David walks in with a practiced manner. Following the musician's example, Heyward pulls up some brush and sits down on the floor. He asks if anyone speaks French or English. A few heads turn to him, but do not answer. Finally one asks if Duncan uses the tongue of the Huron when speaking to his Father. Heyward makes an evasive answer. He is asked how he will respond when he see the scalps gathered from the "Yengeese." Heyward inwardly winces and says that he will commend the duty. He also states that he has come as a messenger to see if any of the Indian children are sick. He wears paint because his brothers give it to him; when the Huron come among the whites, do they not lay aside the buffalo skins? Low applause greets this and reveals a favorable impression.

Two yells are heard from the forest: one low, the other high and very long. The warriors glide from the lodge. Shouts fill the air. There appear to be two fugitives trying to escape the tribe. Preparations are in progress for a battle of some sort. Duncan also goes outside and observes the events. He seems to be safe until the council decides on his fate. Tied to a post in the middle of a circle is Uncas. Much savage laughter fills the air. His countenance is completely unruffled. Heyward recoils in terror. A warrior appears and guides Uncas into the lodge. The gait of the young Mohican is calm and prideful the entire time. The gray-haired chief who spoke to Duncan earlier addresses Uncas. He says that the Mohican is from "a nation of women" but that he has proven himself a man. He urges him to rest tonight because the last words will be spoken in the morning. The chief adds that two men were sent for his companion. Uncas sneers and points out that two gunshots were heard‹therefore the two men will not return. The chief retorts by asking how such a warrior could be caught. Uncas says he was pursuing a coward. He points to a solitary Huron. The crowd buzzes with anger towards the lowly warrior. The chief says his name will never again be mentioned in the tribe. The warrior is anguished but struggles to remain placid. He takes a long knife and passes it into his chest. He falls at the feet of Uncas.


Heyward's performance in the main lodge is admirable. One of the most convincing aspect of the show is the manner in which Duncan's language is modified. He uses favorable epithets such as "wise and brave nation" and "red warriors." His words are spoken very slowly, to create a sense of comfort on his part with this meeting. Taking on the character of a healer is a long shot, but one that succeeds in convincing the Huron that their Canada father has their best interests at heart because he cares about their health. However, the biggest compliment to the tribe by far is the paint. It means a lot to them that a white man among them is trying his hardest to fit in with their culture. Duncan cleverly alludes to the Indian chief who "lays aside his buffalo robe, to carry the shirt that is offered him." He is merely repaying them in kind. That this goes over so well with the council illustrates the general insensitivity of the Europeans. We can presume that few white men try to adopt tribal customs. Instead, they want the Indians to conform to their standards, while they do nothing. It is somewhat unfair that Duncan is able to take advantage of this to gain access to the village, but we applaud him anyway.

We are offered a brief glimpse of an Indian routine for examining prisoners when Uncas is captured. A number of cries are raised, and a line of warriors flee into the woods. A procession occurs with scalps hanging from a pole. Everyone, including women and children, grab weapons. The emphasis is on complete unity, defense and death. Even though there is only one man to fight, it is important to make a show of total hatred for that person. Notice the taunts that are used against Uncas. An old woman emerges, telling him that he comes from "a race of women" and that Huron girls "will make him petticoats and find him a husband." Challenging the manhood of a warrior is the utmost insult. That a woman speaks these words indicates how little women are valued in these cultures. The strength and bravery of a man is the complete measure of his self-worth. For this reason, the man who fled from Uncas must kill himself. No one in the tribe wants to know him any longer, because he has disgraced the people. It is interesting that the Huron are willing to take Uncas's word as totally honest; it is strange that the coward does not try to deny his cowardice. Certainly, this bravery is so deeply entrenched in their cultures that no one would dare to lie about it. By our standards, this suicide seems rather harsh, but to these people, fear is not a permissible emotion. If there is anything inhuman about the Indians, it is this fact.

Faced with taunts and death, Uncas remains passive and quiet. His indifference is incredible, a tribute to the greatness of his people. To sit and acknowledge the insults of those who are beneath him would be to lower himself. He is not afraid, but prideful. Even if he is fearless, Duncan and the reader are frightened enough for his safety.

Chapter 24:


Uncas manages to speak reassuringly to Heyward before they are separated by the rustling of the crowd. Since no one is watching him, he looks around the village for some sign of Alice. Having no success, he returns to the main lodge to have a word with David. The musician has not returned there. The chief who addressed Duncan earlier speaks again, saying that an evil spirit has inhabited the wife of a warrior: can the "cunning stranger" get rid of it? Heyward has no choice but to say he will try. A figure looms in the doorway to the lodge, and Duncan realizes with horror that it is Magua. He reports good moose killing, and says that the youth who just died should meet them on the trail. Silence greets this statement, and the boy's father speaks, saying he has no son by that name. He rises and leaves. Magua then receives news of Uncas's capture. The Huron warrior looks upon the form of the young Mohican and realizes who he is: "Le Cerf Agile!" Magua pronounces his death. A warrior is about to strike him, but Magua stops him and says it must happen in sunlight. He wants to let Uncas try to sleep this night.

As Magua fails to spot Duncan, he is led away from the lodge by a guide who is taking him to the sick woman. A squaw tends a fire outside, whose light reveals the form of a large bear ambling about. Once or twice it puts its paws on Heyward, who is fast losing his nerve. He is dropped into the cavern that holds the patient. There is a circle of women caring for her, and David is at the center of them. The woman is paralyzed and discolored. David sings to her, which the tribe sees as infirmity. A growl is heard‹the bear has wandered into the cavern. David hurriedly leaves.


The fact that Magua completely misses the presence of Heyward is probably the most far-fetched aspect of the entire plot. Most likely we are supposed to attribute this to his enthusiasm due to the capture of Uncas. His joy is described as "ferocious." His nostrils dilate like those of "a tiger at bay." Magua seems incapable of experiencing any emotions that are not tinged with violence. His evil character is again confirmed. Even though he is the prisoner, Uncas smiles with contentment as he enjoys his "victory" among the Huron, who are all extremely agitated by his presence. Their tumult is a compliment to his superb skills as a warrior. Why else would they be so happy to have captured him? The pairing of the two adversaries, leaders among their people, is appropriate. Clearly the time for Uncas to prove himself has arrived. We do not yet know under what circumstances this will occur, but it is steadily approaching.

Magua briefly exercises his skills as an orator. He rallies his people by referring to the disgraceful manner in which many Huron have died at the hands of the foresters. Bringing up the dead, and making Uncas the symbol of all their enemies, is smart. Magua blends "the natural sympathies with the religious superstition of his auditors" so that all instincts of humanity and mercy are banished‹all they want now is revenge. The Huron chief is a skilled politician, in the European sense of the word. He knows how to make his agenda a common one, so that his thirst for blood can be satisfied with the help of others. Making Uncas try to sleep the night is another instance of cruelty, but one that is necessary, of course, for plot twists.

The moment of comedy comes when Duncan is led to the sick woman's cave, and expected to cure her. He is frightened, but then, upon arriving he finds David surrounded by women, who all trying to heal the girl. It is funny that David has fit in so marvelously with the tribe. He is of much more use here than he was with the travelers. The comedy continues when the bear follows Duncan into the cave and appears to hum one of David's melodies. This scares David so much that he makes a run for the exit, saying that the woman expects her doctor.

Chapter 25:


The guide shoos away the women, and approaches the bedside of the invalid. He asks Heyward to show his power, and departs. The bear begins to paw strangely at its head. It comes off as a mask and the face of the grinning scout is visible. He relates that the old Mohican and Munro have taken refuge in an old beaver lodge to keep them safe from the Huron. He asks whether Duncan has seen Uncas. Heyward speaks of his death sentence. Hawkeye says it is the true reason he has come‹he cannot abandon such a boy to the Huron. After the capture of Uncas, Hawkeye shot the pursuers and had the fortune to fall upon the real conjurer who had come to look after the sick woman. He knocked him out and took the bear costume. Hawkeye climbs the walls to look around, and reports that Alice is on the other side of this cavern. Duncan washes off the paint with some water and climbs over the wall. Alice is overjoyed to see him. Heyward updates her on what has occurred, and says that they must get away from the village and find her father. Alice asks of Cora. Duncan assures her that she is not forgotten; but that his concern for Alice herself is deeper, and that he hopes to have a more significant tie to her in the future. Alice trembles and says she wants the presence of her father before she says anything else.

A guttural voice is heard‹Magua has entered the cavern. Duncan challenges him to do his worst; Magua says he will gather his tribe and see how bravely those words could be repeated. He boards up one entrance, and prepares to leave by another when the growl of the bear is heard. Thinking it is the conjurer, he waves it aside impatiently. The bear grasps him in a hug, pinning his arms to his sides. Heyward binds Magua completely. The scout reveals himself and gags the new captive. They must get away quickly. Heyward takes Alice in his arms and covers her up. Outside the door of the cavern the relatives of the sick woman wait. Duncan tells them that the spirit has been trapped in the cave and that they are taking the woman away to be strengthened. He says that no one must enter the cave. They disappear into the woods. Alice revives. Hawkeye instructs them to follow the brook to the nearby tribe who will probably give them protection. He will stay to fight for Uncas.


This chapter details the beginning of the grand rescue mission that will last until the story's conclusion. We are overjoyed to see that Hawkeye has returned to the action. We have confidence that our "superhero" will not fail. His loyalty to Uncas is proven as he states that "it would never do to abandon such a boy to the Huron." The scout sees how special Uncas is, knows that he is the last of his people. The reader must remember how easy it would have been for Hawkeye to refuse the rescue mission. While he is ostensibly here to help Duncan and Alice as well, Uncas is the one for whom he will risk his life. True to his sarcastic nature, the scout says that the day Uncas must die for want of a friend, "Killdeer" will become as harmless as David's tuning horn. These sentiments demonstrate not only Hawkeye's affection for the young Mohican, but esteem for his father and the tribe. We have seen in a previous chapter how important the father-son relationship is in the Indian cultures. Everything that a child does reflects doubly upon his parent. For Uncas to die with Huron jeering at him is an insult to all Mohicans. Hawkeye will do anything to prevent that, even if he winds up dying with him.

The manner in which Magua and the Huron are subdued is nothing less than comical. The author seems to be intimating that their powers of perception are lacking. Although Magua has repeatedly said in many ways that deceiving his people is impossible, Hawkeye and Duncan manage to change their identities rather easily, and no one takes much notice. The two convince the relatives of the sick woman that the spirit is trapped in the cave, and that they must take the covered daughter into the woods. They are both clever and lucky‹the capture of Magua is only possible because of his momentary carelessness; he calls the scout a fool and tells him to go play, but indeed he is the fool. The reader is meant to feel satisfaction that the Huron chief is at last on the shorter end of the stick.

The loving scene between Alice and Heyward, in which he confesses his love for her, is more comical than touching: could there be a more inappropriate place for a marriage proposal? In any case, we must be indulgent of Duncan, who has suffered enough danger at this point in time to believe that he might not live to see his wedding day. Alice's desire to wait until her father is present is a sweet wish, but betrays how dependent she is on others to make decisions for her. Still, we are impressed at how she tells of Duncan when he says that he values Alice more than Cora. Her behavior when Magua enters the tent is quite composed, much like her older sister would behave. The fact that she faints, though, shows that her former delicacy has not receded.