The Last of the Mohicans By James Fenimore Cooper Study Help Essay Questions

1. Is The Last of the Mohicans a unified novel? If so, where does the unity lie — in the plot, the characters, the setting, the theme, the style, the mood?

2. To what extent does the story rely on actual historical events? What percentage of the story would you say is fictional?

3. Look up the term Gothic novel and determine whether any major elements of that form are used in The Last of the Mohicans.

4. Discuss the extent and validity of symbolism in the novel. Can you make a case for Glenn's Falls as a major symbol? Consider, for instance, that an Indian enemy plunges to death at the falls and another, Magua, similarly goes to his destruction near the end of the novel. Do these two events make a parallel?

5. Explain how Cooper succeeds or fails in making Hawkeye both a believable human being and a mythic symbol.

6. What are the primary features of the frontier as a place? As a condition?

7. Among other contrasts in the novel is the blonde-brunette one of the Munro sisters. Does this in any way correspond with their fates?

8. Give some reasons why the novel must be classed as romantic rather than realistic or naturalistic.

9. How many characters in the novel can you describe convincingly as sentimental?

10. What exactly is miscegenation? Point to specific instances in the novel which indicate Cooper's attitude toward the problem.

11. Compare and contrast Gamut's and Hawkeye's concepts of fatalism.

12. Very occasionally Cooper makes use of humor. What seems to be its function in the novel?

13. Describe some events in the plot which show humans pitted against the environment.

14. Justify one's calling Cooper the first American novelist.

15. Who are the most important characters in the novel? Explain their importance in terms of plot and theme.

16. What is meant by Cooper's concept of "place"?

17. How many father-child relationships are there in the novel? What do they have in common? How do they differ?

18. To what extent does Cooper make a simple division of his characters into the good and the bad? Does characterization suffer because of this?

19. Why is Hawkeye ultimately a doomed character?

20. What is the basic structure of the novel? Is it in any way mathematical or geometric?

21. Give some instances of Cooper's talent for improvising. Are these instances in conformity with the novel as a whole?

22. Why do you suppose Cooper gave the novel its particular title? Do the events justify the title?

23. Because of his treatment of Gamut and characters in other novels, Cooper appears to be skeptical about men of the Puritan tradition from beyond the mountains of western Connecticut and Massachusetts. Is Cooper free from that tradition himself? As a lead, what is the sin which Hawkeye, as a messiah image, illustrates can be rectified?

24. Cooper, like others of his time, believed in the idea of progress. Does The Last of the Mohicans suggest that he had any doubts or qualifications concerning that idea?

25. The Last of the Mohicans has been termed an American classic. Can you present reasons for and against such praise?

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According to Cooper, Hawkeye's purpose as a character is to . . .




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