The Last of the Mohicans by J.F. Cooper: Themes

Themes are the central and often general ideas prevailing in the world which are explored in a literary work. In The Last of the Mohicans, James Cooper explored some of the major themes.

James Fenimore Cooper

Interracial love and friendship

The Last of the Mohicans deals with the theme of love and friendship of two different races. The interracial love of Cora and Uncas are doomed at last. They could not unite because they belong to two different races: one from white and another from Black. Their love has a tragic end, both Cora and Uncas have to die for the sake of their interracial love. Through their love, Cooper shows the interracial love at the frontier is undesirable and at the same time the forced love of Magua to Cora is portrayed as unnatural. On the other hand, the interracial friendship of Hawkeye, a white man, and Chingachgook, a Mohican Indian is praised by Cooper. They have a friendship of a lifetime. They both have unity and have a good team spirit to fight against the Huron and save the military leader Heyward.

Religion in the Wilderness

The white character David Gamut is permitted to explore the possibility of application of religion in the wilderness. The wild frontier is untouched by the trace of civilization. It is a free place where no government rules and where there is no law of the British. David Gamut tries to introduce his theory of Calvinism, but is mocked by Hawkeye. In every difficult situation, David sings psalms and wants to find relief. For him, everything is predetermined by fate. No human force can change the fate and its decision. Hawkeye’s mockery at the psalm of David Gamut suggests that the institutional Christian religion has nothing to do in the wilderness and the conversion of its inhabitants should not be attempted. In the wilderness one has to take move according to the demand of the forest. By the end of the novel, David Gamut the Calvinist learns the system of the forest and finds the uselessness of his religion in the vast jungle. He starts to move beyond the rigidity of his own religion and becomes one helpful friend to Hawkeye.

The Idea of Family

James Fenimore Cooper uses the setting of frontier to discover the altering status of the family unit. Cooper is of the view that the wilderness sometimes may demand new explanations of family. Uncas, a Mohican and Hawkeye, a White in the novel form a temporary family structure. When Uncas’s real father, Chingachgook, disappears in the midsection of the novel, Hawkeye then stands as a symbolic father for Uncas. Uncas slowly develops the qualities of leadership and at the Delaware, he shows some skill and traits of Hawkeye, exactly as a son would inherit the qualities of his father. They form a family, which is not bound by blood and the race, but by the mutual love and respect. However, the love that transcends race, the love of Cora and Uncas, do not get the comic end. The tragedy of this novel is that Cora and Uncas cannot form interracial family.


The theme of hybridity is crucial thematic issue of this novel. Hybridity means the merging of one culture to another or the blend of one race to another. There are a number of instances of hybrid people in the novel. Cora is one fine example of hybrid. She is a hybrid child of a black mother and a white father. Because she is partly black and a hybrid, she has some positive inclination towards Uncas, a Mohican. Hawkeye is also a hybrid because he is pure white by blood and birth, but by nature and habit he is a Native Indian. His some of the successes are because he is able to combine the elements of both cultures. In the frontier, hybridity is one of the best way to establish peace for Hawkeye.