Posted by E. Lane on June 16, 1997 at 05:55:53:
In Reply to: COOPER, CHALLENGES, and CAVES posted by E. Lane on May 20, 1997 at 10:53:44:
Cooper never intended to suggest the Mohican people had become extinct. As the utilization of imagery and symbolism were Cooper's favorite literary devices, it is not at all surprising that he 'finished off' the Mohicans. They were intended to represent a group of people whose traditional way of life was rapidly disappearing, much to the sadness of Cooper himself who admired and respected the Algonquian cultures. Consistent with his dislike of the contemporary American culture and his continued criticism of it, he presented the Mohicans' extinction as a symbol of the WAYS of the Algonquians, rather than the persons themselves, as what was dying off.
The 'extinction' represented a personal circumstance for Cooper also. Those who have taken issue with the author for erroneously believing the Mohican tribe was extinct, and who have expressed a desire for "the last of the Coopers" instead, have missed his meaning. Though the Cooper family (founders of Cooperstown, N.Y.) was at one time very large and appeared to have a strong dynastic future, a series of tragedies left only James and one sister surviving. Cooper had no sons and consequently, the Cooper line died out. For a man whose family once had a bright future, this was no trivial matter. The 'last of the Mohicans' was meant to represent the 'last of the Coopers' as well.
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