Re: The Argument for Hawkeye

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Posted by Elaine on July 26, 1998 at 19:23:49:

In Reply to: Re: The Argument for Hawkeye posted by Vita on July 26, 1998 at 15:12:30:

: : I like the idea that Col.Munro might have been an officer with some sensitivity.
: His role is so touching... and yet, here is a food for thought... we hate Magua, right? We cheered Chingachgook for
: executing him for the death of his son, right?

: So, why did we not cheer Magua when he killed Gray Hair?
: was Gray Hair not the one responsible for the death of
: Magua's children????

: Selective empathy on our side! After all, Magua has been
: shown as the bad guy, so who cares that his kids have been
: killed by the father of our heroine? Oh ladies, we are prejudiced! Just consider and reconsider... Chingachgook
: was a father just as Magua was a father.

Yes, Magua was a father, like Chingachgook and Col. Munro were. The introduction of that fact, along with the connection to Col. Munro, served the purpose of allowing us to better understand Magua's actions. It offered a reason for his hate and desire for vengeance. It humanized him and made him more than just evil. Yet, he is still the "bad guy" and our reaction to him is influenced by that.

Our selective empathy is reasonable and expected for several reasons. First of all, we naturally identify with the hero/heroines or protagonists in any story, whether it be literary or cinematic. Their plight tends to reach our hearts far easier than does the plight of their antagonist. That's what an author hopes to achieve. So it is natural for an audience to feel empathy for Chingachgook and Col. Munro. Also, we never see or meet Magua's children. They are "incidents" that are related in the story. There is no personal connection for us. On the other hand, we DO meet both Chingachgook's son and Col. Munro's daughters. We know them ... we identify with them, and they are central characters of LOTM.

As far as the Gray Hair's involvement, he is not directly responsible for killing Magua's children. He is blamed by Magua because of his role as an officer. Magua's children died as a result of war. The Gray Hair was a commanding officer. His involvement was indirect. This makes the situation different for us and we can't react as we do to Uncas' death. Had we seen the Gray Hair actually murder the children of Magua himself, we would, no doubt, feel more sympathy for Magua's plight. So I don't see this as an unreasonable prejudice as much as a normal reaction to the fate of those with whom we identify.

Please consider this?


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