Re: Question about "a man without a cross"

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Posted by Elaine on August 18, 1998 at 09:07:26:

In Reply to: Re: Question about posted by She-Who-Tracks-La Longue Carabine on August 18, 1998 at 08:48:26:

: : : I've noticed in Cooper's book that Hawkeye frequently refers to himself as "a man without a cross" and I'm at a loss for what this means. For example: " Indian myself, but a man without a cross." and, "revenge is an Indian feeling, and all who know me know there is no cross in my veins..." Clearly, this "cross" is an Indian thing and not a Christian thing.

: : : Can anyone tell me what this is about?

: : : Thanks,
: : : Sarah

: : Sarah,

: : You are bringing up a pivotal point about Cooper's Hawkeye. The frequent reference to himself as "a man without a cross" is a strong identifying mark for Hawkeye. It is a Christian reference, however, not an Indian one. This one line is enough to provide essays on who Hawkeye is and is not. A brief summary; it identifies him as a man with no actual religion (though he espouses Christian principles), no family, no cultural ties, no world in which he truly belongs. He is as he is ... a natural man. The tragedy of it, as Cooper intends it I think, is to place Hawkeye in a limbo. He doesn't really belong to either culture by which he is surrounded, nor does he really fit in either age ... the old or the new. He is a loner; an island. A man of the wilderness.

: : This is very much the "son of a trackless forest" which Mark A. Baker is telling us about in his book.

: : A point for much analysis and discussion, this "man without a cross", not to mention the reason She-Who-Tracks-La Longue Carabine
: : has so much trouble staying on his trail!

: : Elaine

: Sarah and Elaine,

: I have to disagree here on the "cross" being a religious issue. Natty Bumppo has another identity fixation which he spends his life pushing in people's faces to the point of nausea - even on my part, who love him so dearly.

: Because he has lived so much of his life among the Delawares and because of the very situation Elaine noted - that he is known to have no living family, Natty is concerned that the general perception will be that he is a half-breed. Since, in the 17 and 1800s, being of mixed blood was considered even lower than being an Indian, he constantly and pointedly makes it known that he has no cross of Indian blood and that his "'gifts" (meaning his nature) are the gifts of a "Christian" - this word being interchangeable with "white" as opposed to "red", "savage" , "heathen" - in those times to draw the distinction between the conquerors and the conquered. Painful, but in those times, that was the was the thinking went.

: Any other takes on this? All opinions welcome.

: She, etc.

Hi She, etc.,

See? The essays have begun! When I say the cross is a Christian reference, it goes beyond religion, but represents "white" culture, attitudes ,and mores, which has a Christian face. Yes, the perception of being a half-breed is one which he is as bit paranoid about. But, he is saying he belongs to neither. No cross. No roots. No where.

Are we saying something different here?


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