The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapter 33 | Summary

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Summary

The battle is over, and the Hurons have been soundly defeated. The victorious Delawares mourn their dead. Munro, Gamut, and Heyward grieve beside Cora's body. Nearby, Chingachgook sits quietly in front of his son, whose body is dressed in fine jewelry and is seated in a lifelike pose. After Tamenund addresses his people, the women begin to chant, cry, and praise the dead. A Delaware girl delivers a eulogy for Cora and for Uncas.

Delaware girls bear Cora's body to a grave on a hill and bury her in a coffin made of birch bark. Gamut sings a funeral song, and Munro asks Hawkeye to give his thanks to the women. Munro, Heyward, Alice, and Gamut leave the Delaware village accompanied, in an ironic twist, by the French aides of Montcalm.

Afterwards, Hawkeye observes the burial of Uncas. Chingachgook speaks with pride and sorrow and sings a song for his son. Hawkeye assures him Uncas will always be by his side. The two friends stand over his grave as they shed tears. Tamenund has the final word. He says, "I have lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans!"

Analysis

This final chapter contrasts the Christian funeral rituals of the whites with those of the Native Americans. Parallel funerals demonstrate the similarities and differences between cultures and illustrate the mixing of different elements from each culture. Both funerals involve singing and prayers, and both involve placing the bodies into a grave.

Cooper touches one last time on the theme of prejudice. After the Delaware girl's eulogy, other women speak about Cora and her qualities. They allude to the love shared by Cora and Uncas and imply the two will be happily united in death. Also, Munro asks Hawkeye to relay his optimistic message: "the Being we all worship, under different names, will be mindful of their charity; and that the time shall not be distant, when we may assemble around his throne, without distinction of sex, or rank, or colour!" However, Hawkeye refuses because he does not believe this kind of unity and equality is possible between different races.

This chapter brings plot events to a conclusion. The main characters Cora and Uncas are buried. The whites, with the exception of Hawkeye, leave. The end of the novel refers to the reality of how the Mohican race will die out now that Uncas is dead, but it also suggests the Native American way of life will disappear as a result of interaction with white settlers. Tamenund prophetically says, "The pale-faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the red-men has not yet come again."

There is a debate as to how to view the ending. Some see the death of Cora and Uncas as a statement that mixed-race marriages cannot end in happiness. A more common view of the ending is that the white settlers are destroying the culture and lives of the Indian tribes.

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