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The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapters 12–13 | Summary



Chapter 12

The opening describes a bloody surprise attack that Hawkeye and the Mohicans launch against the Hurons. Heyward joins them in deadly hand-to-hand combat. While Uncas, Heyward, and Hawkeye rescue Cora, Chingachgook and Magua continue to fight. All of the other captors are killed, but Magua is able to escape, again. Alice says triumphantly, "We are saved! we are saved!"

Chingachgook scalps the dead men, while Heyward and Uncas attend to the freed women. Hawkeye frees Gamut, recommending that he sell his pitch pipe and buy a more useful weapon with the money. In the aftermath of this improbable rescue, the two men discuss their religious views, and Hawkeye proudly tells Gamut that he has no use for "holy books." Gamut sings alone while Hawkeye and the Mohicans confiscate weapons and ammunition and retrieve their horses.

After leaving the scene of the ambush, the group stops for a drink of water and cooks the raw meat left by the Hurons. Hawkeye explains how Uncas discovered where the captives were taken by tracking the telltale hoofprints of their captured horses for 20 miles. Revived, the group continues on its way.

Chapter 13

Hawkeye leads the group to an abandoned building. The building is a small remote fort, where a bloody battle between Mohicans and Mohawks had taken place long ago. It is just beginning to get dark. While Chingachgook stands guard, the others sleep.

When the moon is overhead, Chingachgook wakes Heyward and tells him it is time to move again. Before they depart, Chingachgook and Uncas sense danger. Uncas takes the horses into the ruins, and the whole group waits silently as a party of Hurons scouts the area. The Hurons realize that the mound is a burial ground. Since they respect the dead, they move on from the solemn, sacred place without discovering Hawkeye and the others. Chingachcook signals it's safe to leave.


Chapter 12 concludes the first major chase sequence in the novel. It presents the next part of the structural pattern: the rescue. Although they are outnumbered and lacking rifles, Hawkeye and the Mohicans are able to free both of Munro's daughters, Heyward, and Gamut. Although it is not part of the major chain of events in the novel, Magua's escape also fits the structural pattern

This chapter also continues the thematic discussion of religion. Hawkeye and Gamut share a similar belief that what happened was meant to be; however, their views are derived from different sources. Gamut expresses his Calvinist belief, "He that is to be saved will be saved, and he that is predestined to be damned will be damned!" because it is written in books. Hawkeye, on the other hand, rejects written texts in favor of what he has seen with his own eyes and has learned from studying nature.

Finally, Chapter 12 expands the theme of savagery versus civilization with additional examples of brutality from the battle between Magua and the Hurons and Hawkeye and the Mohicans.

Chapter 13 foreshadows the second major chase sequence with the arrival of the 20 Hurons near the blockhouse. Although nothing comes of this close call, the reader is led to anticipate another chase.

In Chapter 13, the reader learns more about Hawkeye's past experiences fighting with the Delawares and about the way the Delawares were treated by the Dutch. These observations and bits of information help flesh out the characters and explain their feelings and actions toward one another. The reader also gains insight into the morality and customs of the Hurons from the fact that they respect the dead.

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