The Deer Slayer

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Posted by Collin on December 18, 1999 at 22:49:51:

Here are a couple of thoughts as a start for the East coast early risers on The Deerslayer Sunday.

I enjoyed the book very much. I read it in a hardcover edition that includes the complete Leatherstocking Saga. On the evening that I finished the Deerslayer, I was tempted to just continue on with the Last of the Mohicans, which comes next in Natty Bumppo's chronology.

However, for the sake of potential dissent, I found several aspects of the story to be rather maddening.

Cooper skims over some of the best action sequences or has the action happening "off-camera", for instance: when Deerslayer is floating in the canoe while Hurry and Hutter are on their fool-hardy expedition after scalps, or later when Hurry and Hutter fight the losing battle in the castle, or during Hetty's bible thumping excursions to the Mingos. I was interested in hearing more regarding those (and other) episodes. Unfortunately, we miss-out on all the action that doesn't include Deerslayer. We even miss-out on some of Deerslayer's adventures.

We are almost constantly subjected to Deerslayer's moralistic opinions and advice. A personal visit from Deerslayer would be hard to take with his constant racist, self-righteous preaching. He probably missed his calling as a preacher. Deerslayer is particularly rankling with his "redskin gifts" and "white gifts" moralizing. Perhaps his only redeaming quality is his steadfast adherance to his arcane beliefs even in the face of certain torture and death.

Either Cooper was a male chauvinist or he was clever enough to imbue his male characters with the quality. I wonder if his contemporary readers understood the false perspective he presents or was he simply insync with the prevaling prejudice. Both Judith and Hetty were beautiful, caring, and willing to sacrifice for their loved ones. I suspect that Judith was the most intelligent of the whole crew.

Hawkeye was a fool for rejecting Judith. Too bad that Hawkeye was so fettered by misconceptions. What could have been closer to heaven on earth then to set-up house on Glimmerglass with Judith. I believe that she would even have gone with him to the Delawares.


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