James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans was published during the controversial relocation of the American Indian West of the Mississippi. While many argue that Fenimore Cooper’s hero, Natty Bumppo, is too sympathetic with the American Indian, and it is true he sees them as the noble savage in nature when it comes to characters like Chingachook and Uncas, Indians like Magua and the Huron tribe are demonized. In effect, this analysis will prove that the novel is meant to show that there are good and bad people who are Indians and good and bad people who are white Europeans, and that this duality is meant to mirror the duality between the dominant, conquering Europeans and the conquered, marginalized Indians.
It is true we get an idealized version of the native American in The Last of the Mohicans. The author appears to be saying that the Indians and untamed nature are threatened by the advancing European civilization run by a handful of wealthy, dominant individuals. Indians like Chingachook and Uncas are idealized. The descriptions of them reflect their noble quality and their actions are selfless and pure in keeping with pure nature. As Natty, or Hawkeye, states “There is reason in an Indian, though nature has made him with a red skin,” but white people “have many ways, of which, as an honest man, I can’t approve” (Fenimore Cooper 22-23). Cora also reflects the image of Uncas as a noble, natural creature whose skin color is irrelevant. She queries “Who, that looks at this creature of nature, remembers the shade of his skin” (Fenimore Cooper 48).
Yet, while there are idealized portraits of the Indian throughout the novel, there are also cases where the Indian is demonized. Magua and the Hurons, for example, are seen as less civilized and inhuman than the Europeans and idealized Indians. They enjoy violence for its own sake and they eat raw meat