The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapter 31 | Summary

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Summary

After a pine tree is stripped and painted with red stripes, Uncas does a war dance while chanting a prayer to the Great Spirit. Warriors join Uncas and symbolically destroy the post. As the Delawares prepare for battle, Hawkeye sends a young warrior to retrieve his hidden weapons. The young warrior is successful but is wounded by the Hurons in the process of recovering the rifles.

Uncas appoints Hawkeye to lead a group of 20 warriors and assigns different tasks to a number of chiefs. Uncas himself leads a war party of 200 men into the forest and holds a brief "whispering council" with his scouts to work out a strategy. In the meantime, someone from the Huron village comes close to the Delawares. Uncas orders Hawkeye to kill him, but Hawkeye does not shoot because he recognizes Gamut's pitch pipe.

Gamut tells Hawkeye where the Hurons are positioned and where Magua has hidden Cora. As a result of this information, Hawkeye hatches a plan to rescue Cora. With the help of Munro and Chingachgook, he will attack the Hurons from one side while Uncas and his band of warriors attack from another. Heyward approves of the plan, the chiefs agree on what signals to use, and the trap is set.

Analysis

Chapter 31 give the reader a glimpse at how Native Americans prepare for war. Uncas and the other warriors take part in a war dance to mentally prepare for battle. There is a specific pattern to the dance, which includes rhythmic movement, chanting, and a ritualistic representation of battle. After the war dance, Hawkeye comes up with a plan to defeat the Hurons. The war dance, combined with strategic planning, is intended to bring a positive result.

This chapter also suggests a reunion of the major characters is forthcoming. Although Alice is safe in the Delaware village, Munro and Chingachgook will rejoin Hawkeye for the upcoming battle. Gamut reappears. The reader understands Hawkeye's plan is to rescue another major character, Cora, and to fight the antagonist, Magua.

The motif of disguise is repeated in this chapter. From a distance, Hawkeye believes Gamut is a Mingo or a Huron messenger, but he turns out to be neither.

Finally, Chapter 31 heightens the suspense. The tension builds as the moment of conflict gets closer. Cooper lets the reader know that the final showdown between Magua, Hawkeye, and the Mohicans is about to take place.

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