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The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapter 32 | Summary



Hawkeye leads a band of warriors through the hushed forest. Gamut wants to fight, but Hawkeye reminds him that he doesn't know how to use a weapon. Gamut produces his slingshot and says he will use that.

The men cautiously walk along the banks of a brook to the spot where it flows into a larger stream. When they reach a point where they are visible, the Hurons attack and shoot one of their warriors dead. Hawkeye leads a charge, taking cover behind trees and engaging the Hurons in hand-to-hand combat. At the same time, Uncas and his group of warriors attack. The Delawares drive off the Hurons after Chingachgook and Munro join the fight.

Hawkeye and Heyward are reunited with Chingachgook and Munro. Chingachgook assumes leadership of the war party and leads them through the forest. During the battle, the Delawares defeat the Hurons. However, Magua again manages to escape. He runs through "dark and gloomy passages" inside the cave where he holds Cora, followed by Hawkeye, Heyward, and Gamut. Glimpsing Cora's white robe in the dark, the men rush to get closer. As Magua and two warriors drag Cora along, they slip through an entrance on the other side of the cavern and begin climbing a steep hill.

Stopping on a narrow ledge, Cora refuses to take another step. Magua threatens to kill her if she won't agree to be his wife, but his strong feelings for her prevent him from following through. Instead, another Huron warrior kills Cora. Angered, Magua tries to kill Cora's murderer while Uncas leaps down to the ledge, crashing into the two Hurons. Magua stabs Uncas in the back and then kills him. Gamut kills Cora's killer with a rock from his slingshot. Cornered by Hawkeye, Magua attempts to escape by jumping off the edge of the mountain but falls to his death after Hawkeye shoots him.


This chapter presents the climax of the novel, which resembles classic tragedies such as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, in which multiple characters die violent or otherwise terrible deaths, usually during the play's climax. Here, three major characters die: Cora, Uncas, and Magua. At this point, the novel's pattern of pursuit-capture-escape reaches an end, and the last chase sequence is completed. The quest to unite Munro and his daughters is over. The last of the Mohicans is gone forever.

The events in this chapter resolve some conflicts. Magua gets his revenge, even though it is not in the way he planned. Hawkeye kills his enemy, Magua. Uncas and Cora are united—not in marriage but in death.

This chapter reveals how Gamut has changed from the beginning of the novel. It shows he has acquired some of the skills he needs to survive in the wilderness. His swapping of his pitch pipe for a slingshot shows that he has overcome his reluctance to fight.

In this chapter, Cooper returns to the symbol of the cave as a place of safety. Once Cora leaves the cavern, she is in danger. Cooper's description of the gloomy cave also lends a gothic element to the setting and serves to heighten the suspense of the final, frantic chase.

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