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The Last of the Mohicans | Discussion Questions 51 - 52

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How does The Last of the Mohicans bring together the elements of a sentimental novel and a frontier adventure?

Elements of a sentimental novel include love and marriage. Warfare and racial conflict are elements of a frontier novel. The use of Alice and Cora, the main female characters, to carry the sentimental ideals of women at the time is contrasted with the combative and dangerous situations that characterized the frontier. The use of romance also makes the warfare and combat more dramatic. Drama is also heightened by the characterization of Uncas as a good Indian contrasted with Magua's evil nature. Both via for the love of Cora, a white woman, and it is the motivation and intent of both men that give a deeper emotional power to the traditional love triangle.

What lessons about prejudice and racism can modern society take away from The Last of the Mohicans?

Cooper's novel sheds light on how entrenched prejudice and race relations remain in America. The context has shifted throughout the country's history, but daily news accounts provide continuing evidence of civil and political unrest. While people of mixed-race heritage have made many gains toward societal acceptance, the view that such people are tragically flawed and not "pure" still lingers in the country's mindset, though literature contains more positive portrayals of such characters making advances, as opposed to how Cooper had to off Cora's character in keeping with racial purity sentiments of the time. The novel shows how difficult it can be to overcome racial divides and how rare a person like Hawkeye is who truly can position himself on either side of an issue with an informed perspective.

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