Posted by Gayle on September 30, 1998 at 08:28:47:
I went back into the books to confirm, and sure enough - Cooper very carefully used the tradition of East and West with regard to death and burial practices. In the scene in the cemetery in "The Pioneers", Natty had requested that, according to tradition, Chingachgook be buried with his head to the East, and that Major Effingham be buried with his head to the West, and he asked for confirmation that it had been done as he had asked. Then in Natty's own death scene in "The Prairie", Cooper made a point of describing how the Indians placed Natty so the setting sun shone full on his face - meaning of course, that they specifically arranged him facing West as appropriate for a white man. I thought it was worth noting that, even though Natty had lived most of his life among the Delawares and really adhered more to Indian ways than white ways, still both he and the Indians among whom he lived his last year made that very important distinction when it came to the Last Great Change.
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