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James Fenimore Cooper: Writer of the American Frontier

 His historical romances of frontier and Native American life in the early American days created a
unique form of American historic fiction.
 He also wrote numerous sea stories, and his best-known works are five historical novels of the
frontier period known as the Leatherstocking Tales.
 Before embarking on his career as a writer, he served in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, which
greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings.
 The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper,
set in the eighteenth century era of development in the primarily former Iroquois areas in
central New York. Each novel features Natty Bumppo, a frontiersman known to European-
American settlers as "Leatherstocking".
 The Natty Bumppo character is generally believed to have been inspired, at least in part, by the
historic explorer Daniel Boone.
 Natty Bumppo is the protagonist of the series: an Anglo-American raised in part by Native
Americans, and later a near-fearless warrior.
 He and his Mohican "brother" Chingachgook are constant companions.
 Chingachgook is a Mohican chief and companion of Bumppo. His son Uncas, "last of the
Mohicans", grew to manhood, but was killed in a battle with the hostile scout Magua. A man
named Uncas was an historic chief of the Mohican.
 Novels included in The Leather Stockingtales:
o The Deerslayer
o The Last of the Mohicans
o The Pathfinder
o The Pioneers
o The Prairie
 The frontier myth or myth of the West is one of the influential myths in American culture. The
frontier is the concept of a place that exists at the edge of a civilization, particularly during a
period of expansion. The American frontier occurred throughout the seventeenth to twentieth
centuries as Euro-Americans colonized and expanded across North America. This period of time
became romanticized and idealized in literature and art to form a myth.
 The violent interactions with Native Americans became central to the myth of the frontier, and
the American hero has been one who mediated between these two worlds.
 The first national hero to do this was Daniel Boone, the first archetype of the western hero, “An
American hero is the lover of the spirit of the wilderness, and his acts of love and sacred
affirmation are acts of violence against the spirit and her avatars. This is the foundation for the
myth of the frontier that began in the colonies. It was further developed in the nineteenth
century to meet the growing needs of industrialization, incorporating the exploitation of land.
The myth of the frontier held promise of wealth in the undiscovered lands and thus encouraged
The Deerslayer

This novel introduces Natty Bumppo as "Deerslayer": a young frontiersman in early 18th-century New
York, who objects to the practice of taking scalps, on grounds that every living thing should follow "the
gifts" of its nature, which would keep European Americans from taking scalps.

The Last of the Mohicans

The novel is primarily set in the upper New York wilderness, detailing the transport of the two daughters
of Colonel Munro, Alice and Cora, to a safe destination at Fort William Henry. Among the caravan
guarding the women are the frontiersman Natty Bumppo, Major Duncan Heyward, and the Indians
Chingachgook and Uncas, the former of whom is the novel's title character. These characters are
sometimes seen as a microcosm of the budding American society, particularly with regard to their racial

The Pathfinder

The Pathfinder shows Natty at his old trick of guiding tender damsels through the dangerous woods, and
the siege at the blockhouse and the storm on Lake Ontario are considerably like other of Cooper's sieges
and storms. Natty, in this novel commonly called the Pathfinder, keeps in a hardy middle age his simple
and honest nature, which is severely tested by his love for a young girl. She is a conventional heroine of
romance. A certain soft amiability about her turns for a time all the thoughts of the scout to the world of
domestic affections. More talkative than ever before, he reveals new mental and moral traits. With the
same touch of realism which had kept Uncas and Cora apart in The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper
separates these lovers, and sends Natty's romantic interest to the arms of a younger suitor, restoring
the hero to his home in the wilderness.

The Pioneers

The story takes place on the rapidly advancing frontier of New York State and features an elderly
Leatherstocking (Natty Bumppo), Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton (whose life parallels that of
the author's father Judge William Cooper), and Elizabeth Temple (based on the author's sister, Hannah
Cooper), daughter of the fictional Templeton. The story begins with an argument between the judge and
Leatherstocking over who killed a buck. Through their discussion, Cooper reviews many of the changes
to New York's Lake Otsego and its area: questions of environmental stewardship, conservation, and use
prevail. Leatherstocking and his closest friend, the Mohican Indian Chingachgook, begin to compete with
the Temples for the loyalties of a mysterious young visitor, a "young hunter" known as Oliver Edwards.
The latter eventually marries Elizabeth Temple. Chingachgook dies, representing European-American
fears for the race of "dying Indians", who appear to be displaced by settlers. Natty vanishes into the

The Prairie
Treatment of the Indians: As with The Last of the Mohicans, one of Cooper’s major themes in The Prairie
is the idea of a noble savage. The book contrasts Hard-heart and the Pawnee tribe—who were at peace
with the white settlers—to the warlike Tetons. The Tetons are categorically described as cunning, crafty,
deceitful, loathsome and dirty. Hard-heart is brave, fierce, and fights to protect his honor. He refuses to
abandon his tribe, even if he loses his life for it. In contrast, Le Balafre once abandoned his tribe to
become a Teton, thus saving his own life. In the end, Hard-heart is alive while Weucha and Mahtoree
are dead.