The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapters 21–22 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 21

After traveling more than 40 miles, Hawkeye and the group of men find the trail for which they have been looking. They discover the remains of a fire and a meal and realize they are on the right path. They follow the route until they reach a clearing. Heyward and Hawkeye look at what they think is a Huron camp, but it is actually 50 or more beaver lodges on a pond. Here, they meet Gamut disguised as a Native American.

Chapter 22

Gamut reveals both sisters are alive but are being held in different places. He is allowed to come and go as he wishes because he is not perceived as a threat: the Hurons believe he is mad. He explains what has transpired since being captured. Hawkeye and the Mohicans try to get details from Gamut about the weapons, feasts, and rituals he has observed.

Gamut gets ready to return to the Huron village, and Heyward decides to go with him. Chingachgook paints Heyward like a clown to disguise his true identity. Heyward and Gamut watch a group of Native American children play as they make their way into the Huron camp.

Analysis

Chapter 21 takes the characters farther into uncharted, unfamiliar wilderness. The challenging terrain tests the skills of the veteran woodsmen and causes them to be even more concerned about the welfare of the two women. Munro exclaims, "The tender limbs of my daughters are unequal to these hardships!"

Weary and worried, Heyward imagines he is seeing a Huron settlement. Instead, he has stumbled on beaver lodges and beavers "advancing toward him on all fours." Heyward's realization that "a hundred dark forms" are animals and not humans foreshadows future incidents of metamorphosis that will occur.

The epigraph at the beginning of Chapter 22 is from A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. As in Shakespeare's play, the mood of this chapter is dreamy and magical. Plus, the motif of disguise is also present as well. This allows readers who are familiar with the play to further appreciate Cooper's inclusion of epigraphs as a way to help establish the mood for his own chapters.

Chapter 22 introduces the motif of disguise. Gamut is disguised as a Native American, and Heyward is disguised as a "buffoon," or a popular French entertainer. This motif recalls the use of disguises in Shakespearean drama in which characters are not who they seem to be: men dress as women, and women dress as men. The use of disguises adds humor to the plot.

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