He is the most mysterious character in the book, and his death is a sobering and instructive experience for all the other actors in the drama on Glimmerglass. Tom Hutter, in addition to his nickname of Floating Tom, is identified late in the text as Thomas Hovey, a former pirate. The gradual revelation of his past also explains his cruel conduct toward the Indians and his lack of any moral principles. Tom Hutter, however, pays the ultimate price for his crimes and attempted atrocity of seeking scalps from Indian women and children by being scalped himself by the Mingos. His punishment, harsh and painful, may be justified by his own actions; nevertheless, there is a more favorable side to the generally disagreeable portrait by Cooper. Tom Hutter has taken good care of Judith and Hetty by treating them as his own daughters. Although Judith has unhappy memories of Floating Tom and expresses little regret at his death, Hetty appreciates the kindness of the man she knew as her father. Tom Hutter's behavior toward the girls' mother seems to have been ambiguous: he does not offer the picture of a loving and protective husband, but neither does he show proof of having mistreated his wife. The marriage was one of mutual protection for both parties, enabling them to flee to isolated country where they could try to forget their sad experiences and mistakes.
Tom Hutter's ally is Hurry Harry with whom he feels the closest bond of sympathy because they are interested only in acquiring wealth, no matter what the cost. It is difficult to determine the greater culprit: Hurry Harry is impetuous and foolhardy but Tom Hutter is always eager to attack the Mingos. Tom Hutter represents the worst elements among the white men who, despite the risks, wreak harm and damage wherever they go. At the same time, Tom Hotter can be a builder and has established his control over Glimmerglass through the construction of the ark and the castle.