Summary and Analysis
Gamut sings loudly and the savages spare him because of his "infirmity." Almost immediately two hundred men are confusedly afoot, but a consultation is called. The real conjurer and the chief's dead daughter in the cavern are found and Magua is released, revealing to them that La Longue Carabine — Hawkeye — has been in their midst. The enraged people send out additional pursuers and return to the council lodge. When runners report that the fugitives have gone to the Delawares, the chiefs speak in turn, Magua waiting until last. A good manager of people and situation, he orates well, and his view prevails when he recommends prudence. He has now regained favor with the Hurons and is placed at the head of affairs. Just as dawn begins, he leads twenty warriors on an indirect route toward the Delaware village. One chief, whose totem is the beaver, pauses to address the animals as the group passes the pond. It is gratifying when one particularly large beaver sticks his head out of a lodge, but as the Indians move on, the animal removes its head and reveals itself to be Chingachgook.
Other than moving the plot along through revelations that motivate the Hurons and other than the release of Magua which promises more suspense, this chapter's significance lies in the further characterization of Le Renard Subtil. He still has his individual motives for revenge on Munro and Hawkeye, but he is also concerned with something bigger and that is reinstatement with his people, generally villainous like himself. Since belonging matters a great deal to him, he must expiate the follies and disloyalty of his youthfulness. Now that he has helped his people by cultivating the Dehwares, his oration and recommendations before the other Huron chiefs and warriors constitute his first major chance at expiation. Fortunately for him, he is a masterful orator and skilled thinker.
Cooper does not need, at this stage, to point the difference between Magua and Hawkeye, the villain and the hero, for it should be obvious. Magua takes on more depth and a certain amount of sympathy because of his desire to belong. Hawkeye, on the other hand, has renounced his people of the settlements but is more than willing to help them or anyone else who is worthy. He is good per se, the noble knight righting wrongs, and his attitude makes him an ideal. Thus while Magua rises above himself in a way, Hawkeye is already very much higher.