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The pale-faces are masters of the earth,
and the time of the red-men has not yet come again. My day has been too
See Important Quotations Explained
The pale-faces are masters of the earth,
and the time of the red-men has not yet come again. My day has been too
Uncas appears before Tamenund. Uncas is serene, confident
in his identity as a Delaware descendant. However, when Uncas insults Magua
by calling him a liar, Tamenund reacts angrily, instructing the
warriors to torture Uncas by fire. One of the warriors tears off Uncas’s
hunting shirt, and the assembled Indians stare with amazement at
a small blue tortoise tattooed on Uncas’s chest. The old man Tamenund
seems to think the tattoo shows that Uncas is a reincarnation of
Tamenund’s grandfather, a legendary Indian also named Uncas, who
was famed for his valor during Tamenund’s youth. Tamenund releases
Uncas immediately, and Uncas in turn frees Hawkeye. Uncas uses his
newfound power to convince the Delawares that Magua has maliciously
deceived them. In response, Magua insists that he deserves to retain
his prisoners. Tamenund asks Uncas for his opinion, and Uncas reluctantly
admits that although Magua should release most of his prisoners,
Cora is his rightful prisoner. Magua flees with Cora, refusing Hawkeye’s
offer to die in her place even when Hawkeye offers to throw Killdeer,
his rifle, into the bargain. The others, now unable to stop the
villainous Huron because of Tamenund’s ruling, vow to pursue him
as soon as an appropriate time has passed.
Uncas stares longingly after Cora as Magua drags her away.
After retreating to his lodge to consider an appropriate plan of
action, Uncas emerges to initiate a war ritual dedicated to the
god Manitou, or Great Spirit. This dance and war song center around
a young pine tree, stripped of its bark and painted with red stripes.
Uncas and the Delawares ferociously attack the tree, which represents
the enemy. Meanwhile, Hawkeye sends a young boy to find his hidden
rifles. Hurons shoot at and wound the boy on his return to the camp, revealing
their proximity to the Delawares. Uncas and Hawkeye plan retribution
against the Hurons, assuming the command of twenty warriors apiece.
As Uncas and Hawkeye hold a whispering council in the forest, Gamut
reappears, still dressed in his Indian disguise. The startled Hawkeye
mistakes him yet again for a Huron and nearly shoots him. Gamut
tells the men that Magua has stashed Cora in a cave near the Huron
camp. Hawkeye announces a plan: he will lead his men to rendezvous
with Chingachgook and Colonel Munro at the beaver pond, and then
they will defeat the Huron warriors and rescue Cora. The men decide
how to carry out the plan using signals and specific duties in the
As the group approaches the stream near the peaceful beaver
pond, the sound of gunfire erupts, and a mortally wounded Delaware drops
to the ground. The Hurons have tracked the forces led by Hawkeye
and Uncas. A battle ensues, and Hawkeye and Uncas’s men manage to
defeat the Hurons. As the fighting winds down, Magua retreats to
the Huron village. He and two Huron companions slip into the cave
where Magua has hidden Cora. Hawkeye, Uncas, Gamut, and Heyward
pursue them closely.
The Hurons drag Cora along a passage leading
up the mountainside. Uncas and Hawkeye drop their heavy rifles in
order to move more quickly. The Hurons reach a precipice, and Cora refuses
to continue. Magua threatens to kill her with his knife, but he
does not know whether he wants to kill her or marry her. Just as
Uncas succeeds in leaping from a ledge and landing at Cora’s side,
one of the Hurons loses his patience and stabs Cora in the heart.
Enraged, Magua leaps at his ally but reaches Uncas first and stabs
him in the back. Wounded yet defiant, Uncas kills the Huron who
stabbed Cora. Magua slashes Uncas three more times and kills him
Gamut strikes Magua’s other companion with a rock from
his sling. Magua attempts to escape by leaping from the precipice across
a wide fissure, but he falls short. He just manages to grab a shrub,
which keeps him from plunging to his death. As Magua pulls himself
back onto the mountainside, Hawkeye shoots him. Magua stares furiously
at his enemies before plummeting to his death at the bottom of the
The next morning, the Delawares mourn their dead. Munro
holds Cora’s body, and Chingachgook stares sorrowfully at his dead
son. Tamenund gives a wise speech, and a ritualistic chanting honors
the dead. The Delaware maidens chant that Uncas and Cora will be together
in the Happy Hunting Ground, and Chingachgook offers the song of
a father for his fallen son. After the group buries Cora, Munro
asks Hawkeye, who speaks the Delaware language, to convey to the
Indians two hopes: that God will not forget the Delawares’ kindness
and that they will one day be together in a place where race and
skin color are irrelevant. Hawkeye, however, proclaims
that these sentiments are inappropriate and simply thanks the Delawares
for their bravery. The white characters depart without Hawkeye,
and Uncas undergoes a proper burial according to Delaware custom.
Chingachgook laments that he is now alone, but Hawkeye argues that
Uncas has merely left him for a time. Tamenund says he has lived
to see the last warrior of the race of the Mohicans.
Uncas emerges as a hero in Chapter XXX, counteracting
Magua’s false claims to leadership in earlier chapters. Hawkeye
acts as a father figure for Uncas in several chapters, and here
it seems that Hawkeye has passed on to his surrogate son his qualities
of leadership and charisma. Cooper suggests that the natural landscape spawns
familial bonds that move beyond the constraints of genetic relationship.
Also, Hawkeye and Uncas’s father-son bond works in a crudely practical
way, since Chingachgook disappears from the plot during the preceding
chapters, effectively leaving Uncas without a father figure. Hawkeye
is a useful father figure for Uncas, since Hawkeye moves easily
between Indian and white cultures. It is Hawkeye, the hybrid white
and Indian, who orchestrates the plan for reuniting Cora, the white,
and Uncas, the Indian. Cora is not just a blank stereotype who must
be saved according to the conventions of sentimental heroism; for
Hawkeye, she is his surrogate son’s beloved. The search for Cora
becomes personal and familial because of Hawkeye’s bond with Uncas.
Uncas demonstrates a willingness to play on other Indians’
belief in the supernatural. For example, Uncas exploits Tamenund’s
belief that Uncas is a reincarnation of his grandfather. Even though
Uncas uses mysticism to his tactical advantage, Cooper suggests
that the mystical beliefs of Tamenund have some truth. Only after Tamenund
identifies Uncas as a leader does Uncas initiate the war ritual
and begin to command troops of Indians. Uncas becomes a true leader,
but Magua cannot lead despite his continual attempts to gain control.
While Magua attempts to win over the Delawares through oratory and
racist taunting, his words do not sway the Delawares for long. He
has neither the physical prowess of Hawkeye nor the spiritual blessing
of Tamenund. Magua tries too hard, and he loses to men who fall
gracefully, almost accidentally, into their leadership roles.
The conclusion of The Last of the Mohicans ties
together the strands of the sentimental novel and the frontier adventure.
In a satisfying conclusion to the adventure narrative, the forces
of good defeat the evil Magua. In a sad but artistically satisfying
ending, the stars of the sentimental novel die. Cora and Uncas meet
an unsurprising fate, in some ways. Readers of sentimental novels
depended on dramatic, tear-jerking endings. Cora and Uncas suffer
the tragic fate of doomed love, while Alice and Heyward, the conventional white
lovers, will live happily ever after. Perhaps Cooper gives greater
narrative dignity to Cora and Uncas by dooming them to death; perhaps
he implies that they must die because their backward society cannot
accept their love; or perhaps he suggests that they die because
different races should not mix.
Cooper’s own position on interracial romance is ambiguous,
for he offers little editorial commentary on the subject. However,
Cooper’s hero Hawkeye opposes interracial marriage, and as hero
he might serve as a mouthpiece for the author’s own views. When
the Delawares optimistically chant that Cora and Uncas will be together
in the afterlife, Hawkeye demonstrates his obsession with racial
purity by “[shaking] his head like one who knew the error of their
The novel ends with compassionate pessimism about race
relations. Munro wants to express a hope that white and Indians
will one day meet in a place where skin color no longer matters,
but Hawkeye says that to suggest racial equality to the Delawares
is to contradict nature. It is like telling them that the sun does
not shine in the daytime. His words are ambiguous. They might be
the assertion of a racist man who does not believe in equality,
or they might be the defeated words of a realist who knows that
these Delawares will never know racial equality in their lifetime.
Tamenund meditates on the decline of the Mohican tribe, reminding
us of the title’s significance. In his death, Uncas brings together
the sentimental novel and the frontier adventure. The sentimental
novel requires tragic love, and Uncas was predetermined to die for
his passion. At the same time, in the frontier adventure Uncas plays
the symbolic role of vanishing native. With him, Cooper explores
genocidal white power and its capability to wipe out Indian populations.
The murder of Uncas, the last member of his tribe, foreshadows the
destruction of Indian culture by the advances of European civilization
across North America.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Last of the Mohicans!