The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Chapters 27–28 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 27

The Hurons discover the true identity of the figure sleeping in the prison lodge. Gamut, convinced he is about to be killed, sings a funeral song. The Hurons leave him alone because they believe he is not right in his mind. After this first deception is discovered, 200 warriors ready for action. Scouts check that their village is safe from the Delawares and return with the real medicine man from whom Hawkeye stole the bearskin.

The medicine man and the sick woman's father share what happened with the tribe's elders. Ten chiefs visit the sick woman's bedside to verify the stories they heard, and the woman's father discovers she is dead. Suddenly, the bound and gagged Magua appears and is released. As the facts emerge about what Hawkeye and Heyward did to free Uncas, Magua encourages the angry warriors to exact their revenge.

After a long council meeting, scouts are sent to spy on the Delaware camp. Huron women and children are told to go to their lodges, while Magua and 20 warriors prepare to leave. At dawn, Magua leads the warriors along the shore of a beaver lake. A large beaver comes out of a lodge; however, Magua and his war party fail to recognize that the beaver is Chingachgook in disguise.

Chapter 28

Entering the Delaware village, Magua is greeted suspiciously but with respect. A Delaware chief named Hard Heart invites Magua to share a meal, and Magua tries to use the opportunity to inquire about Cora. Magua wants the Delawares to return Cora to him, so he appeases his hosts by giving them the spoils taken from the dead at the Fort William Henry massacre.

Magua shocks his hosts with the revelation "la Longue Carabine," enemy of the French and their allies, is in their village. "Let the Delawares count their prisoners; they will find one whose skin is neither red nor pale." As a result of Magua's revelation, the Delawares hold a short council meeting and then call an important meeting of the entire community, including the elderly chief named Tamenund.

Analysis

Again, the motif of disguise appears in Chapter 27. The deceptions of Gamut, Hawkeye, and Uncas are revealed, but an entirely new deception is initiated with Chingachgook's beaver disguise.

In this chapter, the pattern of pursuit-escape-capture is repeated as the Hurons prepare to chase and recapture Hawkeye and Uncas.

This chapter also helps the reader recall different characters' motivations. Magua still wants revenge for the wrongs he suffered at the hands of Munro and Hawkeye. The Huron chief wants revenge for his daughter's death. The Hurons want revenge for the embarrassment they have suffered at the hands of Heyward, Hawkeye, Uncas, and the Delawares.

Chapter 28 demonstrates Magua's skills in speaking and negotiating. Magua manages to convince the Delaware to give him what he wants through flattery, persuasive rhetoric, and gifts. He appeals to the kinship all Native Americans share and reminds the Delawares of their loyalty to the French. A skilled speaker, Magua proves he is a master of the subtleties of bartering and diplomacy.

The reader learns more in Chapter 28 about Native American values, beliefs, and customs, including the hierarchy that governs Native American society. For instance, the Delawares invite Magua to join them in a meal because he comes in peace. Magua, a Huron, is well acquainted with the history of the Delawares and their alliances. He uses this information to strengthen his argument and achieve his goals. Also, Tamenund is a venerated Delaware elder who is given the utmost respect by the other members of the tribe. His special status is described by Cooper: "The younger men were content with touching his robe, or even with drawing nigh his person, in order to breathe in the atmosphere of one so aged, so just, and so valiant."

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