Re: The Deerslayer

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Posted by Gayle on December 20, 1999 at 18:03:57:

In Reply to: Re: The Deer Slayer posted by Jo on December 20, 1999 at 09:24:34:

Jo wrote:
: Well, first, I congratulate you Collin on finishing the book; it so far, to the "slow readers club" is very interesting; but I think if I were in the wilderness; I would just about be ready to stuff a rock in the Deerslayer's mouth as I also find it weary to slog through his "sermons"; and Hurry; well, he would get the rock over his head.....(However, Chris, I agree with you; having hiked into the "wilderness" my hubby and our friends - they do tend to be very philisophical around a campfire; so this I can see) (but as far as the book; on every third statement?) I will try to think, Gayle, as to what he is "trying" to say; but it is amazing to me that everyone carries on such conversations - when the "enemy" is so "close"; how can one "talk softly" and carry on such long conversations at 30 feet....and be heard! Well, call me too detail orientated....but I am enjoying the basic tale; however; I find a great problem (only being on chapter 8, mind you...the slow readers club) that they continually call Hetty so "slow of mind", yet she got and took off on the canoe without the Deerslayer even hearing that initial episode; and was able to evade them so far. If she were so feeble minded, and if we know the Deerslayer can hear every crack of the twig, she was able to do this?? Maybe, she was a tad stronger than Mr. Cooper would like to have admitted to in writing. (And the bears, oh, my, if one has ever been near a bear....) Oh, well, just an observation on the characters. I was also curious, as to why, Hurry and Hutter (boy, why does Cooper name all of these people with such close names.....)felt so compelled to look for scalps???? Gayle, was this part of a manhood thing? I mean, wouldn't it be prudent to just let things "stay as they lay"; or was this the norm during the time....

: Chris, great input and as well as Collin; guess I have to turn on my rusty mind here!

: Thank you Gayle, for your time and input...

: Will finish the book soon,
: Jo


You're welcome for my time and input. You know I'm loving this!

You've got some interesting points here about Cooper's technique - sometimes he makes an effort to be authentic, and other times, he gets wrapped up in his story and ignores obvious technical problems. He went to a great deal of length at various points to emphasize the way sound travels on a lake. And, as we all know, it travels far and wide over water, particularly at night. I can see, how the characters could carry on a conversation in very low voices and make themselves heard at 30 feet or so. There was absolute silence all around them, and projecting voices, or even whispers over the water would have been easy - and very dangerous. Surely the Hurons could have heard everything that went on on the lake. As to Hetty's ability to circumvent them, she had lived all her life on that lake. The qualities of sound and the control of it were second nature to her. And I am glad you caught up the obvious - that Hetty Hutter was not dumb at all. She was well disciplined, a sharp observer, and very aware of everything around her at all times. She knew exactly when everyone's attention was otherwise directed and picked a judicious moment to slip into the canoe and distance herself into the darkness of the lake. And it is apparent she had been planning this all very carefully. It was not instinct - it was flat out strategy, well executed! She never seemed to get distracted like the other's did. I think Cooper really liked Hetty and was very willing for her to be more than people gave her credit for. However, I can't believe she could make her way all that distance into the woods, through the pitch dark, without - as you pointed out - twigs cracking and bushes rustling. The way sound traveled, it would have been easy for those on the lake to follow her progress and since they all seemed to be able to do everything else in the dark, Hawkeye, with his superior tracking skills, should certainly have been able to follow her and bring her back. But, then she would not have met Hist, and the relationship between the two girls would not have been developed so nicely. So I guess we have to allow Cooper some literary license in order to get his characters into position.

The issue of the names starting with the same letter has caught my attention in many of Cooper's books. I haven't gone into any vast and extensive analysis to see how pervasive this idiosyncrasy was, but it definitely crops up fairly often. Although he uses a thousand different names throughout his novels, he appears to have a penchant for H's and M's. Just as a superficial observation, he appears to lean toward H for characters who are of the lower social classes i.e. Hurry Harry, Hutter, Hetty Paul Hovey (The Prairie), Harvey (The Spy), and of course Hector (all Natty's hunting hounds). Heyward is an exception. Then, he leans toward M for characters of the upper classes i.e. Mary Monson, Marie, Michael Millington (Ways of the Hour), the Mordaunts (Satanstoe), Middleton (The Prairie), Munro, etc. Possibly certain sounds were indicative of certain associations, and he used them without even thinking about it. I find it aggravating, too, and still I keep wondering if he really intended any pattern or symbolism. I am inclined to think not.

On the subject of Hurry and Hutter feeling so compelled to look for scalps, it was strictly for the bounty money. I read an interesting analysis of Hurry Harry in which he was described as being the kind of improvident scapegrace who lived purely for the moment. He would spend what he had in the settlements and then go back out into the wilderness to grab off enough skins and scalps to buy him another few days or weeks of drinking and womanizing in the nearest settlement. He commented that, in accompanying Natty to the Glimmerglass, he was foregoing a good season's hunting, all for the chance to see Judith. So, he was pretty much without money, and since he wasn't getting anywhere with Judith, he figured he would at least take back enough scalps to make himself some bounty money, so the trip wasn't a total loss.

We're digging out some interesting points here. There's so much to find in The Deerslayer, and most people whip through for the basic plot and never see these little things at all. Cooper packs enough detail into a book to support a lifetime of analysis - so much more than just the plot. Just depends on what catches each reader's interest.

Has anybody got any comments on Chingachgook and the difference in his role between the movie and the book?


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