The Last of the Mohicans By James Fenimore Cooper Summary and Analysis Chapter 25

Summary

Heyward wonders at Gamut's cryptic words but cannot think further on them because the chief sends away the women, turns toward his insensible daughter, and says, "Now let my brother show his power." After the bear growls fiercely three times and the Huron superstitiously leaves, the former removes its head to reveal Hawkeye underneath.

The scout tells that he has placed Munro and Chingachgook in an old beaver lodge and that, after Uncas' capture, he trussed up the tribal conjurer and donned the Indian's bearskin. Now climbing up to investigate further apartments of the cavern, he sees Alice and quietly slides back down. With water trickling nearby, Heyward washes off his paint so as not to frighten the girl, then climbs up to her, brings her up to date on events, and, in spite of their predicament, brings a look of innocence and surprise to her face by touching briefly on his feelings for her. A tap on his shoulder reveals the malign presence of Magua, who has entered by another door, which he bars and begins to taunt his captives. The growling bear appears, and Magua, recognizing it as the conjurer in whom he does not believe, brushes by it but is caught in an iron hug.

They tie and gag the villain and, since Alice is stupefied, Heyward wraps her in the squaw's clothes and takes her in his arms. Outside, where the squaw's relatives wait, the major says that he has shut the evil spirit in the cave and they are taking the woman to the woods to find healing herbs. The relatives are not to enter but to guard the door and beat the spirit back if it tries to escape.

In the forest, Alice revives and Hawkeye directs them toward the village of the Delawares. He will stay to help Uncas. They try to dissuade him from so hopeless an effort, but he determinedly leaves them and moves back toward the Huron lodges.

Analysis

The motif of unreality continues, but underneath the disguise is something quite real: Hawkeye under the bearskin, Heyward under the paint. For the sentimental character Alice, the disguise is too much. Hence the major washes himself, but the appearance of the bear, as well as the surprise and threat of Magua, is partly responsible for bringing on her almost senseless condition.

Her response, of course, also fulfills a demand of the sentimental novel. She has already had occasion to blush, tremble, and demur at Heyward's brief mention of his love and intentions. Her state of shock enables him to feel "the delicious emotions of the lover" as he carries her in his arms to the forest, and there her gentle struggles compel him "to part with his precious burden." The reactions of the two to each other are doubtless real enough, but their presentation is strictly that of sentimental convention.

In direct contrast to this presentation is the father-son feeling that Hawkeye has for Uncas. Both what he has given up and what he has gained as a frontiersman are poignantly revealed in his argument for staying to help Uncas:

"I have heard," he said, "that there is a feeling in youth which binds man to woman closer than the father is tied to the son. . . . I have seldom been where women of my color dwell; but such may be the gifts of nature in the settlements. You have risked life . . . to bring off this gentle one, and I suppose that some such disposition is at the bottom of it all. As for me, I taught the lad the real character of a rifle; and well has he paid me for it. I have fou't at his side in many a bloody scrimmage; and so long as I could hear the crack of his piece in one ear, and that of the Sagamore in the other, I knew no enemy was on my back. . . . There is but a single ruler of us all, whatever may be the color of the skin; and Him I call to witness, that before the Mohican boy shall perish for the want of a friend, good faith shall depart the 'arth, and Killdeer become as harmless as the tooting we'pon of the singer!"

The sacrificial plight and the nobility of the woodsman are mirrored in his decision.

Along with this development of characterization and this use of sentimental convention, the structural technique of the second chase also advances. One person has been rescued, but two other captives remain; in fact, in a sense Alice and Uncas have simply changed places. It is yet to be seen whether the second element of the chase — escape — will be successful.

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