Summary and Analysis Chapter 15



The siege is now almost five days old, and when in the afternoon Major Heyward repairs to the ramparts of one of the water bastions, nature seems to have resumed "her mildest and most captivating form." Two white flags indicate that a truce has been made.

The musing Heyward sees Hawkeye, bound and haggard, advancing toward the fort in the custody of a French officer. About to descend from the bastion, the major meets the two sisters, and Alice teases him for neglecting them. Cora says little and seems to be in anguish.

Heyward leaves to find Munro, who is now bitter and ironical because General Webb apparently is sending no help. While on message duty, Hawkeye has been captured and graciously returned, but the letter he carried from Webb has been kept by Montcalm, who has requested a parley with Munro. Instead, Munro sends the major.

Montcalm is courteous and urbane, surrounded by officers and Indians, among whom is Magua, sullen and malignant. The French general reminds Heyward of the superior French forces and suggests a surrender, indicating that the Indians are hard to restrain. Heyward fails to learn anything about the letter and leaves carrying another request that Munro arrange to talk with Montcalm.


Since this is a kind of interlude chapter, Cooper primarily develops the contrasts of the situation. Quiet nature now stands opposite to the human battles that have occurred and are still potential. Munro and Montcalm are shown with their differences of temperament as well as of nationality. In the French camp, savagery and civilization, though temporarily united, face each other as opposites. And the blonde-brunette contrast is seen in quieter circumstances than before. More than ever, Alice is the attractive flirt and Cora is the grave young woman bearing her unexplained anguish with fortitude. The usually resourceful Hawkeye, too, is in contrast with his former endurance and freedom, and his capture strongly objectifies the dire condition of the forces at Fort William Henry.

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