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The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper

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Major Duncan Heyward

Major Duncan Heyward

Major Duncan Heyward

Major Duncan Heyward

Heyward plays a well-meaning but slightly foolish white man, the conventional counterpart to the ingenious, diverse Hawkeye. While Hawkeye moves effortlessly throughout the wild frontier, Heyward never feels secure. He wants to maintain the swagger and confidence he likely felt in all-white England, but the unfamiliar and unpredictable landscape does him in. Some of Heyward’s difficulties stem from his inability to understand the Indians. Still, despite Heyward’s failings, Cooper does not satirize Heyward or make him into a buffoon. Heyward does demonstrate constant integrity and a well-meaning nature, both of which mitigate his lack of social understanding. Cooper also treats Heyward gently because Heyward plays the most typical romantic hero in the novel, and so he must appear strong and handsome, not ridiculous and inept. Heyward and Alice, although presented as a bland couple, make up the swooning, cooing pair necessary to a sentimental novel.

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