Last of the Mohicans

Last of the Mohicans Summary and Analysis of Chapters 31-33

Chapter 31:


Once the pair are out of sight, the tribe expresses great agitation. Women and children are dismissed, and the men retire to the lodges, only to reemerge later in preparation for an attack. They pray to the Manitou for good fortune. Uncas is the leader of the expedition. He gives the battle-cry, and the men spring into action. A post that simulates the enemy is ripped to shreds. Uncas watches the sun‹it is nearing the point when the truce with Magua is to end. Paint is on; Alice is seen to a place of safety while Heyward and Hawkeye thirst for the upcoming fight. The scout dispatches a young boy to retrieve the rifles of Uncas and himself. The quest is successful. Hawkeye praises the young boy and says he will be a great chief. Uncas divides the warriors among the tribal chiefs. Hawkeye is one of the commanders. Heyward is also given the opportunity to be a commander, but he chooses to be a volunteer at the side of the scout. Although the young Mohican would normally go and rush into the enemy ranks, he restrains himself because he knows that is what his people would do. A stranger is seen in the distance. He appears to be a Huron. Hawkeye is about to fire, when he realizes that it is David. The hapless musician is brought to the chiefs. He relates that the Huron are out in terrific numbers just outside the village. Cora is kept in a cave. Uncas and Hawkeye decide to split their forces to approach the village from two sides. Duncan is pleased with the plan. It will be attempted.


It is somewhat amusing to see that the first thing anyone does in this chapter is to remove Tamenund and Alice from the throng. War is simply not an activity for white women or for wise men. The anger of the tribe is clear as they begin to rip the bark from a pine tree. Until now we have not seen any Indians ever destroy a piece of nature unnecessarily. In this case, however, it seems justified. The tribe is likened to a hive of bees, and they are ready to fight their adversaries. Once again we see that war is a communal effort. The women come forth from their lodges, singing songs of joy and lamentation. The children dance. Hawkeye dispatches one to get the rifles in the forest. Overall this is a happy undertaking. The nation of the Delaware is going to war for the insults they have suffered, but also to defend their honorable principles. It might just be wishful thinking, but the reader cannot readily picture this tribe trying to force an unwilling woman to live with a warrior. The manner in which the successful retriever of guns is admired and envied shows just how widespread this war fever is among those of all ages. Apparently you must learn to love warfare when you are young.

Uncas is in his element as the overall commander of forces. Although he is tempted to rush into battle, he restrains himself, knowing that "such a course would have been in opposition to all the received practices and opinions of his countrymen." Already Uncas is thinking like a true leader, with a little bit of politics thrown in. He again demonstrates his esteem for Hawkeye as he makes him an equal commander of forces. The Indians are more than happy to obey the scout. Heyward proves to be a surprise. Rather than command his own men, he wants to fight under Hawkeye. The reader knows that Duncan has finally learned the limitation of a white man fighting Indian warfare. If nothing else, his time in the forest has taught him something useful.

The reappearance of David is almost too much to believe, but we laugh in relief that he seems able to escape death more times than a cat. Perhaps Cooper finds his great faith deserving of such incredible luck. David, as always, provides comic relief when he speaks about the Huron skulking around "with evil intent" and in great numbers. Not only does he understate the situation; he tells them nothing that they do not know. The rapid, short sentences demonstrate that the war is about to begin. The suspense is built, and we are ready.

Chapter 32:


The woods appear very still. But Hawkeye is not deceived by the "treacherous quiet." His group comes upon a path. The scout asks if anyone knows where it runs. One of his warriors does know. Hawkeye decides they will follow the path until they "scent" the Huron. He realizes that David has followed his group. Gravely he tells the musician that there will be fierce fighting. Although not a warring man, David states that he would gladly strike a blow on behalf of Cora. The path is followed, but after a while its cover ends. Hawkeye is troubled at having met no enemy. They are no sooner uncovered, however, when rifles begin to fire. A Delaware falls dead. The Huron begin to retreat, and Hawkeye's men follow. The battle is in full force. The sounds coming from Uncas's quarter seem to indicate that his group is extremely successful, and getting closer all the time to the Huron village. Hawkeye knows that the men against him must be disposed of if he is to be of any help to Uncas. Combat is brutal for a few seconds. Some more Delaware are killed, but more Huron fall.

A whoop is heard from the side‹Chingachgook has joined the battle. Flanked on both sides without cover, the remaining Huron begin to spread out and run. Many more are killed. Munro and the old Mohican join the scout and Heyward. They turn to join Uncas, still fighting the main body of the Huron. Chingachgook breaks off to reach his son directly, while Hawkeye stays to shoot at the Huron from another angle. He sees the bands of the two Mohicans down a dozen Huron. Finally Uncas spies Magua. He rushes upon him, ready to fight. Magua stands to receive him with secret joy, until the rifle of the scout is heard. He then turns and runs away. The fight has moved into the village. Many warriors fall, but Magua is still alive. Uncas chases him to the cave. Magua grabs Cora and holds her so as to shield himself. Because of her, the Huron lose ground in the footrace. Uncas and his friends steadily catch up. Finally Cora stops, announcing that Magua may kill her if he likes, but she will go no further. Magua offers Cora his wigwam or his knife. She drops to her knees and speaks to heaven that He may do what He likes with her. Magua raises his knife to kill her, but hesitates. Uncas springs forward. As Magua struggles with him, a Huron passes his knife into Cora's breast. Magua turns upon his countryman, and drives his tomahawk into the back of Uncas. The young Mohican rises and strikes Cora's murderer to the ground with one stroke. But his power is lost after that stand. Magua stabs him three times and utters a cry of joy. By this time Hawkeye arrives at the scene and screams. Magua leaps over some rocks but misses his mark. He hangs on the precipice until Hawkeye shoots him.


"Action-packed" is an understatement for this chapter! It is full of dialogue and shortly clipped sentences, which both serve to keep the action moving very quickly. Everyone is rising to the occasion. Even the musician, David, is eager to fight for justice in Cora's name. After numerous chapters of preparations for various battles and conflicts, we have the climactic conclusion to the war that has raged in this novel between the Huron and the foresters. The deaths of two of the most loved characters, Cora and Uncas, result from the violence. Strangely enough, their murders, which happen one after the other, are the most touching incidents in the entire novel. Unable to sustain the idea of living with a man she abhors, Cora summons all of her strength and refuses to move. The manner in which she kneels on the ground conveys a sense of helplessness and power. She may be unable to physically do anything about this situation, but she has the weapon of faith on her side. Cora is willing to die if it will deliver her from a terrible future. Magua's henchman does kill her, but she has already won the battle with Magua by denying him his sweet revenge. Still, the reader mourns the loss of our heroine. Cora dies for the sins that others have committed. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and this makes her death doubly tragic. She remains a symbol of strength and innocence, and a victim of European ambitions.

Similarly, the death of Uncas is an awful disappointment. His murder is not as expected as Cora's. When she dies, we believe that Magua should turn upon her murderer; instead, he murders Uncas. Perhaps Magua blames the young Mohican for inadvertently causing Cora's death when he jumps upon Magua and gives the other Huron the chance to kill the young woman. Whatever the reason, we mourn because in fact, Uncas dies out of love for Cora. It is a pure, innocent, untainted love, never referred to or spoken about. Throughout the novel Uncas favors Cora over Alice; that he is willing to die for her shows just how much he cares. That he manages to kill Cora's murderer before he loses his own strength is sad but beautiful. As Magua's affection for Cora is something twisted and evil, the affection of Uncas is goodness personified. Cooper creates in this yet another pairing of the savage vs. the noble savage. This theme resounds in all Mohican-Huron interactions. The point is simple: there are very, very good Indians and very, very bad Indians. And we know which are which.

Magua is never more evil than in the moment of Uncas's death. Cooper writes that he "whirls" the bloody knife at Duncan, who is running to them, begging the Huron for mercy. He utters a cry "so fierce, so wild, and yet so joyous." His happiness is absolutely nauseating. There is nothing human about Magua at this moment. Had Cooper allowed him to escape, the book would have come to a terrible end. Happily enough, the author gratifies the wishes of his readers by having Magua bring about his own death by jumping arrogantly over a large crevice. Had he slithered away more quietly, he might have believably lived. But his need to flaunt the victory in the face of the scout and his friends ultimately allows the scout to shoot him. Both Hawkeye and the reader tremble with anticipation as Magua hangs from the precipice, desperately trying to get a knee on the mountain. It is only just that he feel what the sensation of helplessness before he dies. For all his talk about honor, Magua dies more disgracefully than anyone else. Thankfully, he gets what he deserves.

Chapter 33:


The following day the Delaware is a nation of mourners. There is no rejoicing. Six girls adorn the form of Cora with flowers. Munro is seated at her feet; David stands next to him. Heyward stands a bit apart from the group. Close by is the form of Uncas. Chingachgook sits at his feet, staring at him with an impenetrable gaze. Hawkeye is at his side with Tamenund, who is positioned at the head of his people. Silence reigns over the scene. There is no crying. Uncas is extolled for his fine Indian virtues. Cora is praised for beauty and courage. They are glorified in song. Chingachgook sings by himself to his son. Cora's body is carried by the women to a cluster of pines to be buried. The scout thanks them for their preparations. The men of the village remain with Uncas. David begins a sacred song, his most beautiful ever. There is complete stillness as everyone listens. Munro gives his thanks, and Hawkeye translates. The aged father announces that it is time to leave. David and Heyward mount horses that have been brought by remaining troops. Alice is among them, sobbing. Duncan grasps Hawkeye, and repeats their engagement to meet within the posts of the British army. They are accompanied by aides of Montcalm. Hawkeye watches as they disappear into the forest.

The scout goes back to catch one last look at Uncas as he is enclosed in skins. Chingachgook has not spoken at all. But he turns and asks why everyone is so sad. His son has died with honor, has gone to the "happy hunting-ground." He says that he is alone‹but here Hawkeye interrupts and says it is not so; that he will remain with the old Mohican always. Chingachgook grasps his hand in friendship. They cry silently for a few moments. Tamenund comes forth and says that he has lived to see the last of the Mohicans. The story becomes a legend in Indian lore.


"Aftermath" would be an appropriate title for this final chapter. After the storm comes the regrouping. We must say goodbye to the dead, as everyone else prepares to move on with their lives. Cooper provides us with a mourning that combines both Indian and white traditions. This is an important innovation for a satisfactory conclusion because it symbolizes a compromise between two cultures, at least temporarily as they share the tragedy. Eulogies are made about Cora and Uncas in English and Delaware. Songs are sung by both David and the Delaware girls. Munro sits at his daughter's feet; Chingachgook sits at his son's feet. Yet the author asserts that the men around Uncas are far more touching than the group around Cora. Perhaps this is related to the inability of Chingachgook to show any emotion. Munro has a "hidden anguish" that is only partially concealed by his gray locks. The old Mohican keeps an anxious but steady look on his son, so that "a stranger could not tell the living from the dead." This concept is a frightening one. Chingachgook seems entranced, almost as if he is putting himself in his son's place. Apparently, this is his way of handling sorrow, as Munro cries to handle his.

The sanctity of ceremony is entirely preserved. Specific people are appointed to each task concerning the dead. Cora and Uncas are commended by using the typical imagery of nature that is so flattering in Indian cultures. As the whites speak of God, the Delaware girls speak of a Great Spirit whose will it was to take the two people. While Europeans often look at Indian religions as pagan, this moment demonstrates a definite similarity between them. They have the same ideas, expressed in different ways.

When Chingachgook finally speaks, he surprises everyone by asking why they are sad. He believes that his son has lived a good life and that is what counts with him. In truth, his attitude is the ideal one to have. Surely he will miss his son, but he chooses to believe that he is happier in the spirit world than he was on earth. When the old Mohican says that he is alone, Hawkeye immediately discounts that thought. His intention to remain with Chingachgook is both noble and necessary. The two men, such fierce warriors, have a mutual dependence on one another. Like the nature that surrounds them, they exist in a delicate balance, white and Indian, but see no distinctions. When Hawkeye says that Uncas has left them "for a time," he seems to intimate that they will see him again in the next life. It seems that the man without a cross has one in the end.