Study Guide

Cora Munro in Last of the Mohicans

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Cora Munro

Cora is the more sensible of the two Munro sisters. Dark-haired, strong-willed, and calm in the face of danger, she is everything that the typical 19th century heroine is not. Although in some ways Cora is a damsel in distress (Magua captures her every chance he gets), she is also capable of speaking her own mind and offering sensible solutions to tough problems.

When she suggests that Hawkeye and the Mohicans flee from encroaching enemies, she essentially saves their lives. She pleads her case to the great Tamenund and successfully has Uncas brought forward to claim his rightful place as a chief. So she's got a great track record when it comes to keeping herself and her loved ones alive.

Unfortunately, however, in the world of the novel Cora Munro is destined to die, perhaps because the prospect of an interracial marriage between her and Uncas is simply unimaginable. Only in death are her virtues praised, and she is held in even higher esteem than her sister Alice.

She's also destined to die, perhaps, for another reason… she's not pure blood. This is a novel that is obsessed with the idea of pure "whiteness" and pure "Indian-ness," and Cora is neither. She's biracial:

"There it was my lot to form a connection with one who in time became my wife, and the mother of Cora. She was the daughter of a gentleman of those isles, by a lady whose misfortune it was, if you will," said the old man, proudly, "to be descended, remotely, from that unfortunate class who are so basely enslaved to administer to the wants of a luxurious people." (16.27)

Because Cora is part African-American, she's shown as being a little more open to the idea of interracial love. This, unfortunately, is a death sentence for everyone involved. The three people who bite the dust at the end of the novel are Cora, Magua and Uncas, who have been involved in a love triangle since the word go.

Cora's participation in this love triangle, and her ability to look past race—she says, "Who that looks at this creature of nature, remembers the shade of his skin?" (6.6) when she's checking out Uncas' hot bod—is a major no-no. It's a pity Cooper could be so open-minded about some things (he does call slavery "base" in the quote above) and so insanely closed-minded about others. Maybe Cora and Uncas wouldn't have to wait until the afterlife to get together if Cooper had just thought a bit outside the racist 19th century box.

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