Summary and Analysis
Brought before Tamenund, Uncas is staunch and upright, proud and defiant in the knowledge that he is a chief and also a descendant of the Delawares themselves. When he laconically affirms that Magua is a liar, the patriarch turns him over to the Indians and the enraged Delawares prepare the dreaded trial of torture by fire. Uncas holds himself with serenity as a warrior tears away the Mohican's hunting-shirt and is rooted in frozen amazement at the small tortoise beautifully tattooed on the prisoner's chest.
The aged Tamenund, already shaken by the somehow familiar musical voice of Uncas, now thinks that he is confronted by the agile grandfather Uncas of his youth. With his identity and superiority established and acknowledged, Uncas cuts Hawkeye's bonds and convinces the Delawares that Magua has lied about him. Le Renard Subtil realizes that he is losing ground rapidly but insists upon his right to his prisoners. Questioned by Tamenund, Uncas declares that the men are not Magua's prisoners, but in all honesty he cannot deny that Cora is a captive of the villain.
Hawkeye partially offers himself in place of Cora, finally even saying he will throw Killdeer into the bargain, but Magua contemptuously will not agree. Cora says that she could not accept such a move and, bidding Alice a fond goodbye, she steels herself to go with the Huron. Both Heyward and Uncas vow to give chase when the sun "is seen above the trees," and with curses on his lips Magua disappears triumphantly into the forest with his prisoner.
While making good dramatic use of Indian pride and customs in this chapter, Cooper also utilizes classic peripety — a reversal of fortune and circumstance. The occasion allows him once again — this time through the words of Tamenund — to touch upon the historic Indian trials and injustices at the hands of the white invaders; it is doubtless this history that has partly led the Delawares to believe Magua's lies about Hawkeye. The chapter further presents the scout's stoic fatalism when he rationalizes upon offering himself for Cora; and the mixture of blood in Cora is reemphasized when, in parting with Alice, she touches her sister and says, "She is fair — Oh, how surpassingly fair!" The chapter, then, is one of reversal, revelation, and reiteration.