Re: The Deerslayer - Redeeming Qualities

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Posted by Gayle on November 07, 1999 at 07:42:02:

In Reply to: Re: The Deerslayer posted by Kate on November 06, 1999 at 20:40:52:

So - Hurry Harry? Well, actually, I LIKE him!! Well, I find him the more 'human' of the two. He has lots of faults but he also has many redeeming qualities.

But to be honest, I don't much care for our 'Natty' - I couldn't be comfortable with him!! Don't get me wrong - I admire his strength of character, his honesty and his integrity. But he takes it to a level that I would find difficult to live with. He is uncompromising and isn't willing to 'bend', even for a friend. Of course, he's young and hopefully, with some 'life experience', he's going to learn to 'give' a bit, and learn that sometimes the 'truth' isn't always what it seems! Also that it is sometimes better to compromise and be tactful rather than truthful! Perhaps he 'gets better' as the book progresses - I hope so!


I think we are generally agreed with the rest of the world that Harry March is a pretty interesting and lovable character, while Natty shows a certain lack of flexibility. It seems to me that Natty's unwillingness to "bend" takes the form of staunchly demanding recognition of differences in life and people, while Harry has everybody and everything narrowly pigeonholed from the get-go and won't even consider other possibilities. Still, both display contraditions as the story goes on, and sometimes in surprising ways. Consider the following conversations between the two:

Harry: But this is what I call reason. Here's three colors on 'arth: white, black, and red. White is the highest color and therefore the best man; black comes next, and is put to live in the neighborhood of the white man, as tolerable and fit to be made use of; and red comes last, which shows that those that made 'em never expectd an Indian to be accounted as more than half human.

Natty: You go off at half-cock, and don't hear me out. God made us all white, black, and red; and, no doubt, had his own wise intentions in coloring us differently. Still, he made us, in the main, much the same in feelins'; though I'll not deny that he gave each race its gifts. . . .

Harry: . . . as for scalping, or even skinning a savage, I look upon them pretty much the same as cutting off the ears of wolves for the bounty, or striping a bear of its hide. And then you're out significantly as to taking the poll of a red-skin in hand, seeing that the very colony has offered a bounty for the job; all the same as it pays for wolves' ears and crows' heads.

Natty: . . .I hold to a white man's respecting white laws, so long as they do not cross the track of a law comin' from a higher authority; and for a red-man to obey his own red-skin usages, under the same privilege. But, 'tis useless talking, as each man will think for himself, and have his say agreeable to his thoughts.

Harry: Who's talking of mortals, or of human beings at all, Deerslayer? I put the matter to you on the supposition of an Injin. I dare say any man would have his feelin's when it got to be life or death, ag'in another human mortal; but there would be no such scruples in regard to an Injin' nothing but the chance of his hitting you, or the chance of your hitting him.

Natty: I look upon the red-men to be quite as human as we are ourselves, Hurry. They have their gifts, and their religion, it's true; but that makes no difference in the end, when each will be judged according to his deeds, and not according to his skin.

Harry: Who denies it? But you'll not say that a red-man and a white man are both Injins?

Natty: No; but I do say they are both men; men of different races and colors, and having different gifts and traditions, but, in the main, with the same natur'. Both have souls; and both will be held accountable for their deeds in this life.


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