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MonkeyNotes-The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
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Chapter 8

Summary

After their companions have been killed, the remaining Hurons begin yelling and shooting. Chingachgook returns the fire. Duncan thanks Uncas for saving his life during the fray and says that he will be his friend forever. They shake hands. Uncas shoots at a Huron who is sitting on a tree. However he misses. Hawkeye shoots at him, and he falls onto a lower branch of the tree, grievously wounded. Duncan begs Hawkeye to have mercy and finish the job, but Hawkeye refuses to waste the powder, though he raises and lowers his rifle several times. Finally, however, as the man weakens and falls, Hawkeye shoots him with his final shot.

Uncas is sent by Hawkeye to fetch the last horn of powder from the canoe, but before Uncas can retrieve it, a Huron makes off with the canoe. Duncan demands, "What will become of us?" Hawkeye and Chingachgook are sure that death is inevitable but they are stoic about it. Cora urges them to flee through the river and get help. Hawkeye agrees to her suggestion and decides to leave. Uncas wants to stay behind with the women, but Cora urges him to leave. Duncan refuses to leave however.


Notes

In this chapter, strong characteristics of all the players are revealed. Cora, who is strong and practical, urges the men to get help. Hawkeye, who is also practical -- indeed, too practical to be chivalrous -- agrees to her suggestion. In this chapter, the character of Hawkeye may go a few notches down, as he leaves the women behind when the Huron attack. But Cora understands that their only hope is for someone to get help. Duncan Heyward, though he understands the necessity of someone going for help, still opts to stay behind. The chivalrous streak in the officer is too strong for his practical sense to emerge.

Another aspect highlighted in this chapter is the growing friendship between Duncan Heyward and Uncas, who has saved the former's life. This has forged a lifelong bond between them. Cooper also hints at the developing relationship between Cora and Uncas. Uncas wishes to stay, but Cora gets him to leave by insisting that he act as the "most confidential of [her] messengers."

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