Re: The Deerslayer

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Posted by Gayle on December 22, 1999 at 11:17:59:

In Reply to: Re: The Deerslayer posted by Collin on December 21, 1999 at 22:53:27:

: 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.

: Collin


This is good perspective on why Natty failed to "take on" Judith. It's solid, straightforward logic, certainly. I would add a couple of ideas to it, though: Natty's particular stage of life and the issue of chemistry. As attractive as Judith was to him, the chemistry just wasn't there for him. That doesn't need any analysis - it's just one of those things that either Is or it Isn't, right? In addition, he was focused on the tests of manhood that would determine his whole future - establishing a name and reputation with the Delawares, testing his own resolve in the face of having to learn to kill other human beings, defining his courage under fire, and weighing his Christian principles against the realities of frontier warfare. He had a lot to think about, and marriage was definitely not way up there on his list of priorities. On the other hand, he seemed to be a person who could not do anything in moderation.

While Chingachgook saw no conflict in getting his family life together at the same time he was involved in warfare, Natty could focus on only one thing at a time. Chingachgook always had a much more balanced perspective on life than Hawkeye did. I wonder why, in all their years of association, Chingachgook was not able to convey any of this perspective to Natty. It seems Natty absorbed the outward aspects of the Indian culture without assimilating any of the inner strengths or wisdom, while Cooper tried to imply exactly the opposite. There is a fine paper by a professor from Toledo University, in which she presents and impressively supports the argument that, for all his denials to the contrary, Natty was actually a half-breed. But he does not appear to me to be deeply enough imbued with the outlook and approach to life that is so beautifully illustrated by Chingachgook (or any other Indians in the books). Any input from anybody on this?

Just for the sake of being difficult, I disagree that Judith had any inate understanding of higher virtues, i.e., compassion, truth and love. As much as I applaud her for having a clear idea of what she wanted in life and achieving her goals in spite of social condemnation, the life she finally engineered for herself would belie any inner propensities for the higher virtues. But then, she wasn't given much choice, when all was said and done.


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