The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapters 25–26 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 25

The chief asks Heyward if he can cure his daughter, and Heyward pretends he can heal the sick woman. Heyward begins a ritual but is interrupted by the growling of a bear. The chief leaves, and the bear's head comes off. Heyward discovers this is no bear—it is Hawkeye! The two exchange news. Heyward learns Munro and Chingachgook are at the beaver lodge, and Hawkeye learns that Uncas was taken prisoner. Hawkeye explains how he took the bearskin from a medicine man to disguise himself. He asks if Heyward has seen Alice, and Heyward reports he has not found her yet. Hawkeye, in disguise, climbs a tree to get a better look and discovers where Alice is hidden.

Heyward and Alice are reunited. Heyward announces his intention to marry her. Just then, Magua enters the cavern. Magua threatens to torture Heyward and starts to leave to get warriors to help him. A bear's growl catches Magua by surprise. While Hawkeye grips Magua tightly in a bear hug, Heyward ties Magua's arms, legs, and feet. To prevent Magua from calling out, Hawkeye gags him.

Hawkeye prepares to lead Heyward and Alice out of the cavern, but Alice is paralyzed with fear. Heyward wraps her in cloths and carries her out of the cavern. When relatives of the sick woman come to find out about her condition, Heyward tells them that he has "shut the evil spirit in the cave" and is taking the woman to the woods to find medicinal roots. Hawkeye, disguised as the bear, leaves the cavern with Heyward. Armed with branches, rocks, and tomahawks, the concerned relatives stand guard outside the cavern, ready to fight the evil spirit if necessary.

Once the group reaches the woods beyond the Huron village, Alice is able to walk. Hawkeye directs Alice and Heyward to a nearby Delaware village and explains why he must return to rescue Uncas. Although he has never loved a woman, he has a close bond with Uncas. "Winters and summers, nights and days, have we roved the wilderness in company, eating of the same dish, one sleeping while the other watched." This shows how strong the bond has grown between Hawkeye and Uncas over the years. Alice and Heyward head toward the Delaware village.

Chapter 26

Hawkeye returns to the Huron village, crawling to Gamut's hut. Gamut is frightened by the "bear" until Hawkeye reveals himself. Gamut asks Hawkeye what happened to Alice and Heyward, and Hawkeye asks Gamut where Uncas is being held. Gamut takes Hawkeye to the lodge, where they trick the guards into letting them enter for the purpose of doing magic so Uncas will be powerless before his execution.

When Gamut and Hawkeye approach Uncas, Hawkeye hisses like a snake. The bound captive recognizes Hawkeye's signal. Hawkeye orders Gamut to cut Uncas loose and hands Uncas a knife. Hawkeye and Uncas decide how to escape. Uncas puts on the bearskin, Gamut puts on Hawkeye's cap and shirt, and Hawkeye puts on Gamut's blanket and hat. After this exchange, Gamut bravely remains, pretending to be Uncas despite the risk of angering the Hurons. The Hurons briefly stop Hawkeye and Uncas to ask if their magic has worked on the prisoner but then let them go. After Uncas and Hawkeye escape from the Huron village, they hear a loud cry from the lodge where Gamut has assumed Uncas's place. Hawkeye and Uncas, armed with rifles that Hawkeye had concealed, run through the forest to the Delaware village.

Analysis

Chapters 25 and 26 continue the motif of disguise. In Chapter 25, Hawkeye is disguised as a bear, and Alice is disguised as the sick woman. Heyward rejects his disguise and reveals his true self to Alice. In Chapter 26, Gamut pretends to be Uncas, Uncas pretends to be the bear, and Hawkeye pretends to be a healer. Cooper's use of the disguise motif helps advance the plot and adds comic relief. This motif also provides a means for the characters to move freely within the hostile environment of the Huron village. Blending and exchanging identities adds interest and humor the plot, yet it also conveys the broader theme of the clash of European and Native American cultures and captures the issue of a changing national identity as a result of colonization in the 1700s.

Chapter 27 continues the second chase sequence. Heyward and Hawkeye rescue Alice, while the end of the chapter foreshadows Hawkeye's attempt to rescue Uncas from the Huron village.

In Chapter 26, Hawkeye does rescue Uncas, thus continuing the pursuit-capture-escape pattern that runs throughout the novel. The wily scout and the Mohican find a way past the Huron guards by pretending to be the healer and his bear. The end of this chapter signals the start of yet another pursuit by the Hurons.

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