The Last of the Mohicans | Study Guide

James Fenimore Cooper

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The Last of the Mohicans | Plot Summary

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The Last of the Mohicans is a historical novel set in 1757 in central New York during the French and Indian War between the French, English, and their respective Native American allies. However, in Cooper's novel, the actual British/Iroquois and French/Lenape or Delaware alliances are reversed. At the beginning of the novel, four travelers begin a hazardous journey from one British fort to another. Cora Munro, her half sister Alice, and their escort, Major Duncan Heyward, ride on horseback from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry through the woods. An offbeat singing teacher from Connecticut named David Gamut accompanies them. Magua, a Huron scout, guides them.

The travelers and their guide encounter the talkative white woodsman Natty Bumppo (otherwise known as Hawkeye), a Mohican chief named Chingachgook, and his son Uncas. Hawkeye tells the group their Huron scout cannot be trusted and has led them astray. At first, Heyward refuses to believe Hawkeye, but then he realizes that they have been duped. Magua runs away, but Hawkeye and the two Mohicans agree to accompany the travelers.

For safety's sake, the travelers are brought to a secure place at the foot of Glenn's Falls for the night. Hidden in a cave, the travelers rest. The next morning, Iroquois attack. Since Hawkeye and the Mohicans run out of ammunition, they cannot fight. At Cora's urging, the three men float downstream to get help.

Magua and his band of warriors capture Cora, Alice, Heyward, and Gamut. Heyward tries to persuade Magua to take the women back to their father, but the Huron warrior refuses unless Cora agrees to become his wife. Horrified, Cora refuses, and the captives are tied up and threatened with violence. Just in time, Hawkeye and his companions arrive and attack the Iroquois. The travelers are saved, but Magua escapes. The group sings a hymn of thanks for their successful rescue.

That night, the group takes shelter in the ruins of a remote fort. Chingachgook keeps watch while the rest of the party sleeps. When the moon rises, the group moves on. At dawn, they reach the outskirts of Fort William Henry, which is under siege. A French lookout stops them from going farther, but Heyward speaks to the soldier in French. After lying that he is bringing the prisoners to Montcalm, the travelers are allowed to pass. In the meantime, Chingachgook kills the lookout and disposes of his body.

Although French troops have encircled the fort, the embattled group is able to find their way through dense fog and gun smoke to the front gates. They enter the safety of the fort, and Cora and Alice are reunited with their father.

During the siege, Hawkeye acts as a messenger. He is sent to Fort Edward to ask General Webb for reinforcements. When Hawkeye returns, he carries a letter from Webb, but the French intercept it. After the French and English call a temporary truce, Montcalm and Munro meet. Once Munro realizes Webb's letter indicates that he is not sending additional troops, Munro accepts his men will no longer be able to adequately defend the fort. Munro accepts the terms of surrender and prepares to evacuate.

The next day, English soldiers and their families march out of Fort William Henry. As soon as they go into the forest, the Iroquois allies of the French mercilessly kill many of them. French troops do nothing to help. In the confusion, Magua captures Alice, Cora, and Gamut and takes them far from the massacre.

The rest of the group—Hawkeye, Uncas, Chingachgook, and Heyward—join Munro. For three days, Hawkeye carefully tracks Magua and his captives. In close pursuit, they follow Magua toward the Huron camp. On the way, they meet Gamut, who informs them the Hurons have Alice, and the Delawares are holding Cora. This makes their rescue efforts even more challenging. To make matters worse, a Huron war party captures Uncas.

Through the use of clever disguises, Heyward rescues Alice, and Hawkeye rescues Uncas from the Hurons. Leaving Gamut behind, they retreat to the Delaware village. Meanwhile, Magua comes in peace to the village to plead his case before the aged Delaware chief, Tamenund. Magua reveals the true identify of Hawkeye and Uncas and argues he should be allowed to marry Cora. Ultimately, Tamenund frees Uncas and Hawkeye, but he rules in Magua's favor. Magua leaves the Delaware village with Cora.

After Magua leaves, Uncas convinces the Delaware warriors to fight the Hurons. Along with Hawkeye, Chingachgook, Munro, and Gamut, the Delawares defeat the Hurons. Amazingly, Magua escapes once more, but this time Hawkeye, Heyward, and Gamut pursue him into a dark cave and up a steep hill. On a narrow ledge, the foes face off. One of the Huron warriors kills Cora, Magua kills Uncas, and Hawkeye kills Magua.

Afterward, the Delawares mourn the dead and bury Cora and Uncas. Munro and Heyward escort Alice from the village, and Hawkeye and Chingachgook together grieve for Uncas, the last of the Mohicans.

The Last of the Mohicans Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Cora and Alice Munro embark on journey to join their father.

Rising Action

2 The travelers meet Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas.

3 The three woodsmen offer to act as guides for the travelers.

4 Magua and warriors capture Cora, Alice, Heyward, Gamut.

5 The captives are rescued and taken to Fort William Henry.

6 Magua recaptures Cora and Alice during a massacre.

7 Heyward rescues Alice and Hawkeye rescues Uncas.

8 Tamenund allows Magua to take Cora from his village.


9 The Delawares defeat the Hurons; Magua and Cora escape.

Falling Action

10 Cora, Uncas, and Magua die.

11 Cora, Uncas are buried; all the whites but Hawkeye depart.


12 Alice and her father are reunited and Magua is killed.

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