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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 36

another Magua in the Sioux Mahtoree, another Uncas in the Pawnee Hard-Heart. These Indians ride horses; the flat prairies afford few places of concealment. But the trapper is as ready as ever with new arts, and the flight ends as romance prescribes. The final scene, the death of the trapper in the arms of his young friends, is very touching and fine, yet reticently handled. Thackeray imitated it in the famous death of Colonel Newcome. For the most part, the minor characters, the lovers and the pedant, are not new to Cooper and are not notable. The family of Ishmael Bush, the squatter, however, make up a new element, as realistic as the rougher sort in The Pioneers, but more sinister, more important in Cooper’s criticism of the frontier. Bush and his giant sons have been forced out of civilization by its virtues, as the trapper by its vices. They have strength without nobility and activity without wisdom. Except when aroused they are as sluggish as a prairie river, and like it they appear muddy and aimless. Ishmael Bush always conveys the impression of terrific forces lying vaguely in ambush. His wife is nearly the most memorable figure among Cooper’s women. She clings to her mate and cubs with a tigerish instinct that leaves her, when she has lost son and brother and retreats dumbly from the scene in a vast silent grief, still lingering in the mind, a shabby, inarticulate prairie Hecuba.
  The Last of the Mohicans and The Prairie, and the praise they won, did not convince Cooper that the frontier was his true province. His next novel, The Red Rover (1828), written in France, turned to the noisy Atlantic between New England and the West Indies. Feeling that he must take care in writing of nautical affairs to avoid



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