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Natty Bumppo, the Deerslayer, is Cooper's fictional frontiersman-hero through several books. Natty is young here-- chronologically this is the earliest part of his life to be recorded. He understands both white and native ways, and therefore has unique vision and superior morals. He does the right thing, is sorely tested, and can get himself (and others) out of terrible scrapes. The other protagonists would be Chingachgook and Wah!--they are natives of the noble, honest, and compassionate sort.
Thomas Hutter and Hurry Harry come off worse than the "bad" Indians in The Deerslayer. Cooper suggests that Tom and Harry are their own worst enemies they embody all that was wrong in the early frontiersmen. They are greedy, dishonest, unchristian, and get themselves killed by being so full of themselves and blind to circumstance. They are also the people who made it possible for the whites to move westward, and Cooper seems to have some sympathy for them as well. The "bad" Indians are the antagonists in that much of the action of the novel is taken up in trying to escape them, rescue various people from them, and generally keep them at bay. But, again, Cooper has a shred of understanding towards their position they merely want to continue their traditional way of life and the white settlers are advancing on them.
There are several tense moments of near-death for Deerslayer, as he remains a captive of the Iroquois. But the final moment comes when the women's attempt at rescue fail and Chingachgook bounds into the Iroquois camp and releases Deerslayer while the Iroquois are near to torturing and killing him. The British troops show up just in time. In the ensuing chase and battle Hetty is killed and the Iroquois are defeated.
Hetty is buried near her parents in the lake (Tom Hutter is killed long before the end of the story) and Chingachgook and Wah! head out to their tribe. Hurry disappears into the landscape, same as he ever was. Judith returns to "civilization" with the regiment and the Deerslayer goes on his way into the wilderness, with Chingachgook and Wah!. He can't really live with white people or natives--he is both, and can't reconcile himself fully to either way of life. Through several later books, he wanders in the wilderness, visits his friends, and goes on to his next adventures. At the end of this book, we find out that fifteen years later, when Deerslayer, Chingachgook and his young son Uncas, revisit the lake, that Wah! is dead, and Judith is probably living with (not married to) her former garrison- officer friend, in England. Thomas Hutter's old buildings on the lake are falling into decay.