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Heroism is the main theme of this book. In the native, wild, virginal country of America, where life is uncertain at all times, the characters stand out for their inherent bravery. Nearly all of the members of the group display astonishing levels of bravery in spite of all the hardships that they face.
Duncan Heyward acts as the protector of the women in their journey to meet their father. When he is urged by Cora to leave after the gunpowder has run out, he refuses and stays back with her and Alice. When the Hurons later trap him, he fights like a caged animal. Throughout the saga, he displays amazing levels of bravery, whether in the battles with the Hurons or protecting the women. When Uncas is trapped, he rushes to help him without giving any thought to his own life.
Hawkeye is more practical but nonetheless brave. He offers to lead the girls to their father and stays on till the very end to protect their lives. He stays calm when their gunpowder runs out, even though he knows that the Hurons will soon attack. At Cora's request, he leaves, not to flee but to get more gunpowder and possibly help. At every turn of the book, when Magua kidnaps some member of the group, Hawkeye immediately rushes to help. He also uses disguise to achieve his objective. For instance, he dresses as a bear when he goes to rescue Uncas from the Hurons.
Cora shines through as brave and courageous. She continually defies Magua and acts cool-headedly throughout the novel. She is admired for her actions by both Hawkeye and Uncas. While Alice often seems to have little to do but faint and be rescued, she does deal with her circumstances as best as she can within the confines of her role.
Chingachgook, though old, supports Hawkeye throughout the book. He too displays courage through the various clashes with the Hurons. But his heroism stands out especially in the last chapter of the book. Although he loses his son Uncas, he bears the loss with dignity and courage.
Uncas displays extreme courage throughout the novel, whether in battle or in rescuing the women. He looses his life trying to save Cora, but does so with such courage that the reader cannot help but marvel at his heroism.
In the hard frontier life that Cooper depicts, bravery appears as a matter of course. Men such as Hawkeye stand out as superheroes, and women such as Cora can boast of being made of the same mettle and strength.