Character Analysis Chingachgook


Chingachgook, although he does not appear until Chapter 9, plays an important part in The Deerslayer for two reasons: He represents the Indian counterpart of Natty Bumppo because the basic ideals and codes of the two friends are essentially the same; and he symbolizes the highest qualities of the Indian race, proving thereby the innate worth of the natives of the North American continent. Unlike Rivenoak, however, who is also a "noble savage," Chingachgook accepts friendship with the white men and attempts to live in peace with them. Nevertheless, Chingachgook disagrees often with the beliefs of his white allies, especially Tom Hutter and Hurry Harry. Deerslayer's friend is no subservient ally of the new masters and exploiters of the lands his people have ruled for centuries. Nor is Chingachgook persuaded of the merit and efficacy of the Christian teachings advocated by Deerslayer. He has, as Deerslayer recognizes, his own "gifts," and Chingachgook must live accordingly by the characteristics of this code, For example, Chingachgook con join the scalping expedition of Tom Hutter and Hurry Harry without receiving the rebuke administered to the white men by Deerslayer.

Deerslayer and Chingachgook, then, are very close friends because they adhere to the same code interpreted according to the respective "gifts" of the white and Indian races. Honor and loyalty, for instance, are respected by both men. Chingachgook, speaking little, is always reliable in any crisis; he astutely unravels the secret hiding place for the key to Tom Hutter's chest. He is proud of his Indian heritage and disdains the use of disguise forced upon him by Deerslayer to deceive the Mingos about his presence on the ark. Chingachgook is likewise a true friend and expresses his opposing opinions frankly, directly, and honestly, even to Deerslayer when the latter defends the Christian concept of heaven.

There is one very obvious difference between the two companions: their attitude toward women and the prospect of a settled life. Chingachgook is in love with Hist and looks forward to a return to the Delaware territory with his beloved. Indeed, the reason for the action occurring around Glimmerglass is Hist's abduction by the renegade Briarthorn with Deerslayer and Chingachgook agreeing to meet at the lake for the rescue of the Indian maiden. Cooper compares Chingachgook on several occasions to a Roman senator, symbol of the transfer to American soil of the classical ideal. Although Deerslayer lectures Chingachgook on the duties of a kind and thoughtful husband, the Mohican chief always shows himself concerned and solicitous about Hist's happiness and welfare.

Although Chingachgook is a chief and a noble representative of the Indian race, he is of course subordinated to Deerslayer's superiority as a great warrior. The shooting match, for example, demonstrates Deerslayer's more skillful marksmanship. Cooper, in his creation of the epic hero, gives first place to Deerslayer; but he establishes Chingachgook in a very close and honorable second position.