Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Hawkeye is both a character and a symbol. Cooper uses Hawkeye to symbolize colonial hybridity, the mixing of European and Indian cultures. Hawkeye also symbolizes the myth of the hero woodsman. He demonstrates perfect marksmanship in the shooting contest held by the Delawares, for example. Hawkeye also becomes a symbolic father. Excluded from the novel’s love plots, Hawkeye takes part in a different sort of human relationship by creating a father-son dynamic with Uncas.
The recurring description of Uncas as “the last of the Mohicans” symbolizes the death of Indian culture at the hands of the encroaching European civilization. The title anticipates the ultimate tragedy of the novel’s plot. Although the title specifically refers to Uncas, it also alludes to a larger historical event: the genocidal removal of the Indians by President Andrew Jackson’s policies of the 1830s. The phrase “the last of the Mohicans” laments the extermination of the ways of life native to America.
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