Every trail has its end, and every calamity brings its lesson!
from The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper


The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 was written by James Fenimore Cooper in 1826. As the full title states, it is set in 1757, during a war between English and French colonists in America. The story centres not around the soldiers but the two daughters of a British Colonel; Cora and Alice Munro. With the help of an Indian guide named Magua, they are travelling through the forest to safety at their father’s fort. Magua, however, is a traitor and captures the two young women. They are eventually rescued by a white scout called Hawkeye and his two Indian friends, Chingachgook and Uncas.

Although this is mainly a romantic adventure story, it has deeper messages too. When Uncas falls in love with Cora, their love is forbidden because of their racial and cultural differences. But hope is given in the character of Hawkeye: a white man who prefers to live as an Indian and who represents the union between the two races and cultures. Another important theme is the destruction of the Indian civilization by the Europeans. While the last of the Mohicans tribe is actually Uncas, the title also refers to the disappearance of his race.


Illustration by Alfredo Belli, taken from The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, Reading and Training, Step 4 (B2.1)