Re: The Deerslayer

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Posted by Collin on December 21, 1999 at 22:53:27:

In Reply to: Re: The Deerslayer posted by Gayle on December 21, 1999 at 10:56:19:

Well, I messed-up and tried submitting a response a couple of days ago, but it didn't work. I've now forgotten the points I was trying to elucidate. Here is another entry.

Going back to Gayle's comment on Natty sensing that Judith would not be good for him in the long-run ("On the other hand, for all her passionate attraction to Natty, I don't think Judith would have been a good wife for him, and I think he sensed this."). This is attributing powers of perception to Natty that, I think, were way beyond his simple moralistic foundation. I don't see Natty as intuitive enough to realize the futility of a relationship with Judith. I think his failing to take on Judith was a combination of prejudices based on Hurry's comments plus a reticence to "boldly step forward" in matters of the opposite sex. He may have wanted to accept her, but was held back by a complex set of emotions that included fear, the inability to freely express deep feelings on the "spur of the moment", and misguided moralistic judgements.

In reference to Chris's comments on the tendency for philosophizing of those who spend much of their time alone: This is a good rationalization for Natty's tendency for pedantic remuneration.

I have the same reaction as Chis in finding it hard to stomach Natty's proclivity for offering unsolicited moralistic advice, i.e., he drives me nuts. However, I do, somewhat grudgingly, admit that his advice was accurate and had to be based on an extraordinary understanding of human nature coupled with an intuitive understanding of his co-protagonists' personalities that is highly unusual for someone of his tender years. The exception to his acute understanding is his unspoken and unthought (in print) perception of Judith. I think Natty totally missed the mark regarding Judith and lost the opportunity to experience the bliss of love for his lifetime. Granted, Judith had natural leanings toward the comforts of life and pleasures of physical adornment. However, her deeper feeling seems to be based on an innate understanding of higher virtues, i.e., compassion, truth, and love. Their relationship may not have withstood the test of time but the experience would have been of ultimate value for Natty as well as Judith.


: : : 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

: : : 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?

: : : Gayle

: : ________

: : Well, Gayle, not having gone past page 150 or chapter 10; (the "Everyman" publication) (with a great illustration of the "Deerslayer" by N.C. Wyeth on the front cover...)you have such interesting comments about the book...I have not read enough about Chingachgook to make any comments as he has been mainly, up to this point, just a sounding board to the events of "the ark" and rowing/sailing about Glimmerglass. Will let you know. As far as what I do think so far; I always thought he knew English very well....even in the movie; but chose to not speak it.
: : I still, perhaps like you, have a lot of trouble with Hetty climbing through the "wilderness" at night! no less! (I think it is because of my night blindness; - my own observation and viewpoint - and having been camping - at night; sometimes it is not easy to even find your way to the loo if you needed to! [without a flashlight] unless there is a full moon; however it has been "overcast" for the second night in the book); but I guess Mr. Cooper felt it was important to put this in....and why the bears.....but if Mr. Mann could take poetic license, then so can Mr. Cooper; maybe that is where Mr. Mann got it!
: : Interesting comments about Hurry and the scalps! And the similiar names...this would be something to think about.

: : Again, thank you Gayle, will finish it soon....

: : Jo

: Jo,

: You're right about Chingachgook understanding English very well but not being willing to speak it unless there were no other choice. Cooper made a special point of highlighting this issue in many of his books. He used it as a way to make it clear to his readers that the Indians were very intelligent and quite capable of understanding and speaking multiple languages and dialects and that they had the discernment to use their skills and education very judiciously. I think Cooper tried very hard to overcome the patronizing white attitude that Indians were simply savages of the woods, and he demonstrated pretty constantly that they were more than competent intellectually and should not be underestimated. There was pride and dignity in the refusal to speak English, and not a little cleverness, since whites would smugly assume they were not understood and thus reveal more than than they intended in a conversation. Obviously Chingachgook had been exposed to the English language through the Moravian missionaries as well as his lifetime friendship with Natty.

: I particularly enjoyed the fun of Natty trying to convince Chingachgook to disguise himself in Hutter's clothes. Cooper did a great job of describing Ching's disgust and Natty's amusement. Also, an interesting view of the sensitivity and respect between them as Natty made a monumental effort not to offend his friend's dignity by grinning too openly at him. Small indicators, but significant in demonstrating the depth of their friendship.

: The scene with the bears was a nice little nature touch, but I don't think it really told us a whole lot or advanced the plot any. (Unless I'm missing something.) I did enjoy the control Hist exercised over her own situation in the Huron camp. She was a manipulator, that gal, and I wish Cooper had used her character more in the adventures. But then he already had more females than he could cope with, so Hist ended up being sort of an adjunct. But she WAS great hauling Hurry Harry out of the lake!

: Gayle

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