Racial Divides in The Last of the Mohicans

Throughout James Fennimore Cooper's unique The Last of the Mohicans a typical style of interracial friendship and love and the problem it takes to conquer such a barrier, is revealed strongly in the work. In the unique Cooper demonstrates how the America people of European decent treat those that are native, by demonstrating how adversely they deal with the Native Americans. Chingachgook and Hawkeye have a relationship that is authentic and deep, bypassing the typical relationship in between that of a white guy and a Mohican Indian.

Interracial love and romantic relationships are condemned in

The Last of the Mohicans, for instance when, Cora, the older daughter of Munro, is approached by Magua and he discusses his desire for their marriage it is preceded that their relationship is unpleasant as well as uncomfortable whereas Uncas and Cora's mutual relationship ends in a terrible catastrophe. Cooper makes it evident that race was very important in each person's acceptance and regard in the early American community, however the bond and relationship between Hawkeye and Chingachgook is stronger than the American neighborhood's influence; there is likewise a common style of interracial romantic relationships being impossible due to the fact that of how Cora's relationships with Uncas and Magua both concern an end.

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Various critics agree that Cooper's novel makes the relationship between the Native Americans and the white Americans visibly different from their association with their own race. "The Last of the Mohicans shifts its action back in time to the mythopoetical world when the future of American hung in the balance between the primitive and the civilized, between the French and the British, in between the white and red men.

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" (Burt 1). Burt suggests that with the treatment between the characters it reveals America at a different stage, one that is still being built on and not quite ended up in building and construction.

Burt also suggests that That the last of the Mohicans is honest in Cooper’s portrayal of the interaction that is between the two main races of the novel, all the way to the depths of the “psychology of Native Americans and their place in American culture and conscience.” (Burt 1). The racial conflicts in the novel are shown when “multiple cultures interact without physical conflict, settle their differences through dialogue.” (Rinne 15). The conversation that is presented throughout the novel seems to help settle some of the disputes, between many individuals like Alice and Magua, a relationship that exemplifies how white and red men confront one another.

This concept of interracial interaction between the people of the novel, despite the bond between Hawkeye and Chingachgook, is shown clearly that it is not a pleasant connection. “As they traversed that short distance, not a voice was heard amongst them; but a slight exclamation proceeded from the younger of the females as the Indian runner glided by her unexpectedly and led the way along the military road in her front.” (Cooper 17). Alice shows her fear towards that of the Native blood, unlike her sister Cora, Alice struggles with others more. She is afraid and a symbol of the people that are not always shown in Cooper’s novel.

As she continues to look at him, “an indescribable look of pity, admiration, and horror as her dark eye followed the easy motions of the savage.”(Cooper 17). She represents the way many of the other women of the time felt; uneasy and unsure of these people of any different race. Alice’s background is why she is chosen to represent the white population, since she is of pure blood. Throughout this novel the other American’s are shown as treating the Natives with little respect because of racism, believing that with their possessions such as their clothes, weapons, and education they are to be held to a higher standard and supreme to the Natives that surround them.

In The Last of the Mohicans Cooper begins a trend with the creation of Hawkeye and Chingachgook’s relationship a “prototype for Ishmael and Queequeg, Huck and Jim, The Lone Ranger and Tonto--” (Burt 1). Hawkeye and Chingachgook have “a stark, stripped human relationship of two men, deeper then the deeps of sex.” (Burt 1). Cooper shows just how deep of a friendship these two men can have looking past all of the racial boundaries that are in position from the surrounding society.

Despite the way interracial relations between the civilized and the savage were looked down upon Hawkeye and Chingachgook’s relationship continues without any such interference. Cooper makes the relationship important especially in the times of need, during the battle scenes and while they complete acts that make it clear that Hawkeye and his group are the protagonists of the story. This is a strong and deep connection between the two men making a statement for the time period, in which the story is set in.

The constant reoccurrence of Hawkeye and Chingachgook’s relationship as friends in the Cooper’s novel shows the power of this symbol. The two men constantly look out for one another’s well being, Chingachgook gives Hawkeye information and reassures him his “ear shall drink no lie.” (Cooper 32) simply because they are friends. As the book continues the two men and the bond that is between them is proven to be deeper then the expectation of the average American community of the time. Through their dangerous journey they stumble upon much conflict, yet instead of burdening their friendship, it only builds their relationship as friends. Without one another they would have not made their journey through the forest protecting the young women as they did. Despite the thoughts of the Americans their relationship made things better rather than if they had not sought help from their friendship.

Parts of Cooper’s novel “The last of the Mohicans derives its power from exploring threats to racial purity. Uncas and Cora deviants from the white norm threaten to cross radical lines and must be killed.” (Burt 3). Whereas “Heyward and Alice are free to marry and reproduce,” (Scalia 2) because unlike Cora and Uncas are following the “white norm.” Cooper sends the message that interracial romance and love is predestined for failure. Cora and Magua’s relationship is awkward despite Cora’s initial attraction towards the Indian. Cora and Uncas relationship ends in the terrible tragedy of death, because of her refusal to marry Magua. Cooper also suggests “it is Cora’s dark blood that accounts for her boldness… accounting for the mutual yet sublimated attraction of both Cora and Uncas.” (Blakemore 43). Blakemore explains that their relationship contained mutual feelings towards each other even though their relationship is considered unacceptable.

From the beginning of the novel the factor of interracial coupling is there because of Cora’s mother being of a different race. Although the element is there Cooper also implies that these relationships are hopeless, for example when Magua and Cora’s relationship is uncomfortable and unnatural. “‘Listen’ said the Indian, laying his hand firmly upon her arm as if willing to draw her utmost attention to his words; a movement that Cora as firmly but quietly repulsed by extracting the limb from his grasp.” (Cooper 121).

Cora does not let Magua touch her despite his efforts to keep her under his control. Where like Magua and Cora’s relationship is a failure so is Uncas and Cora’s because it ends in tragedy of each characters death. “Magua recoiled a step; and one of his assistants, profiting by the chance, sheathed his own knife in the bosom of Cora.” (Cooper 413). Cora is killed before her and Uncas are allowed to love one another fully. Although this relationship is considered improper their desire for one another is still persistently shown throughout the novel.

In conclusion, James Fennimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans is a powerful novel filled with many different issues involving interracial tribulations. Using some of the main characters Cooper is able to show how white Americans would treat the Native Americans negatively. Cooper also keeps in mind the different type of relationship that is built between Chingachgook and Hawkeye, which happens to be deep and strong. Also, the romantic aspect of relationships that is represented in The Last of the Mohicans is clearly shown to be an impossible happening for the characters.

The Last of the Mohicans shows the importance of race in the early American community and how treatment towards those who are different is shown, yet despite the fact that interracial friendship is frowned upon Hawkeye and Chingachgook keep a firm grip upon their friendship; a final theme is the troubles that form between when two of different races are to fall in love. Cooper does a beautiful job showing each of his interracial interaction points clearly in his novel.

Work Cited

Blakemore, Steven. ""Without a Cross": The Cultural Significance of the Sublime and Beautiful in Coopers The Last of the Mohicans." Jstor.org. University of California Press. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. Burt, Daniel S. “The Last of the Mohicans.” The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novels of All Time, Revised Edition. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2010. Bloom’s
Literary Reference Online. Facts on File, Inc. 20 Jan. 2012. Cooper, James Fennimore. The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757. New York: New American Library, 1962. Print Rinne, Craig. "White Romance and American Indian Action in Hollywood's The Last of the Mohicans." Jstor.org. University of Nebraska Press. Web. 20 Jan. 2012 Scalia, Bill. “The Last of the Mohicans.” In Werlock, Abby H.P., ed. The Facts on File Companion to the American Novel. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2006. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts on File, Inc. 20 Jan. 2012

Updated: Nov 16, 2022
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Racial Divides in The Last of the Mohicans. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/racial-divides-in-the-last-of-the-mohicans-essay

Racial Divides in The Last of the Mohicans essay
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