Re: The Deerslayer - Redeeming Qualities

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Posted by Gayle on November 07, 1999 at 13:13:42:

In Reply to: Re: The Deerslayer - Redeeming Qualities posted by Dana S. on November 07, 1999 at 10:58:34:

: : Kate,

: : 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:

: ~~~~~~~~~

: In light of what you have stated above, Gayle, I think Natty is just "right and truthful". Hurry seems to be the inflexible one. Natty, also, seems to be tolerant. Inspite of Natty's differences with Harry and his murderous thoughts, he is willing to be "friends". Of course, if he up and walked off, we wouldn't have much of a book! One can't be much more flexible than that.

: I couldn't live with Hurry Harry. He's just a little too violent for me. I wouldn't have the presents of mind or the courage to stand up to him as Natty does. The first time he tried to choke me, I'd have run ( but not before leaving a little puddle)!

: Dana S.

Natty is pretty eloquent about having tolerance for differences among people, but his tolerance is highly selective. You'll see what I mean as the book goes on. Cooper made the point in his introduction that he wanted Natty to represent the wilderness version of untainted Christianity without being a "monster of goodness". Right now it appears Harry is the bigoted and coarse one, and Natty is generous and tolerant, but I think we'll probably have occasion to come back to this point several times, particularly when we get to comparing Harry and Natty's treatment of Judith Hutter.

As to leaving little puddles, Cooper never said Natty didn't do it - Cooper just distained to write about it. However, at the very beginning of the story, Cooper described Natty's clothes as "having the usual signs of belonging to those who pass their time between the skirts of civilized society and the boundless forests". Perhaps he was implying that traveling all the way from the Schoharie Valley to Otsego Lake in Harry's company had taken somewhat of a toll. ;o)


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