Re: Question about "a man without a cross"

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Posted by Gayle on August 18, 1998 at 10:14:32:

In Reply to: Re: Question about posted by Elaine on August 18, 1998 at 09:07:26:

: 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?

: Elaine

I don't think we are saying something different. You are looking at it from a larger scope than I am. My sense is that Natty viewed the religious issue and the ethnic issues separately, but often used words vaguely and interchangeably, just as Cooper did.

Remember that, though he lived much with the Delawares, Natty was heavily under the influence of Major Effingham, who was pure English aristocrat. Natty had absorbed many of the stereotypes about class issues from the Effinghams. But one of the things Cooper insisted on was that Natty evidenced a strong natural instinct for distinguishing between right and wrong, just and unjust. This gave Cooper room to put social, cultural and religious issues up for discussion, since he could present both sides of every issue through the medium of a man who was neither fish nor fowl, so to speak, but had very specific opinions on everything.

You are dead-on about Natty choosing to have no connection with the formalized Christian faith, but that was presented as his rising above the hypocrisy of what the church taught as opposed to what the "Christians" did. One of his observations that fascinated me was the one about the irony of "civilization" as represented by the settlements. He observed that churches and forts were usually built together, though one stood for peace and the other for war . Cooper seriously attempted to open up for consideration the contradictions of mankind, and I think he would be truly pleased if he could observe our contemplation of these issues here.

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