The Last of the Mohicans By James Fenimore Cooper Summary and Analysis Chapter 4

Summary

When the mounted party from Fort Howard approaches the three men of the woods, Hawkeye addresses first Gamut and then Heyward only to learn that they are lost because their Indian guide has taken them west instead of north toward Fort William Henry. Doubtful, especially when he learns that the guide is a Huron who has been adopted by the Mohawks, Hawkeye makes an a priori judgment of the still-unseen guide and uses the contemptuous term Mingo: "he who is born a Mingo will die a Mingo." His two Indian companions concur with his thinking.

Still doubting and cautious, be baits Heyward by bantering away about Indians until Heyward reveals that he is the major of the 60th regiment of the king at William Henry. Walking to the rear of the party for a look at Magua, Hawkeye returns and says that he could guide them back to Fort Edward, which is only an hour's journey away, but that it would be impossible because of the ladies and the dangers of coming night, particularly with the Mohawk as a companion. He suggests his shooting and disabling Magua from where he stands, but the major will not hear of it. Consequently, as the sun goes down, he sends the two Mohicans through the thickets on opposite sides of the path and tells the major to engage Magua in talk while he himself converses with Gamut.

Magua proudly refers to himself as Le Renard Subtil (the Subtle Fox), the name his Canada fathers have given him. He is cautiously quiet but allows Heyward to convince him to sit and eat. As slight sounds in the thicket make Le Renard alert, Heyward dismounts, determined to seize the treacherous guide, but the latter strikes up the major's arm, gives a piercing cry, and darts away into the thicket. Immediately Chingachgook and Uncas appear and give swift pursuit just as a flash comes from Hawkeye's rifle.

Analysis

Since this chapter is mostly one of surface action, little comment is needed except to point out Hawkeye's respect for the military and the fact that all Iroquois tribes are to be looked upon as treacherous enemies. The alertness and swift action of Magua, who is more of a threat when they do not know his whereabouts, mark him as a worthy opponent for the stalwart protagonists. His escape heightens the suspense of the story.

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




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