Study Guide

Last of the Mohicans Chapter 11

By James Fenimore Cooper

Chapter 11

  • Epigraph from The Merchant of Venice that deals with forgiveness of one's people.
  • Magua had chosen one of many steep, pyramidal hills as their resting ground for the night. Heyward is disheartened. Clearly rescue is not happening.
  • The horses nibble on some foliage.
  • One of the Indians nabs a baby deer for dinner, and, with the exception of Magua, the Indians eat the meal raw.
  • Heyward notices that Magua is not participating in the deer tartare feast, and becomes confident enough to approach him again. He tells Magua about Munro's love for his daughters. Magua is clearly thinking hard, but Heyward does not know how to interpret the expression.
  • Magua tells Heyward to fetch "the dark-hared one" (that would be Cora).
  • Heyward thinks Magua wants to be swayed with more promises of blankets, etc. and coaches Cora along these lines.
  • He tells her that the lives of her and her sister will depend upon how well she does, but that his own life was gone long ago.
  • Heyward tries to spy on Cora's conversation with the Indian, but Magua banishes the officer.
  • Cora goes on the offensive, asking Magua what business he has with her.
  • He recites a long list of complaints: the Hurons were great warriors, Magua was the greatest one of all, but then the white people came with alcohol and changed everything. The dude has reason to complain.
  • Cora argues with Magua for a while.
  • Turns out Cora's dad once had Magua whipped. The Indian had been working as a scout for Munro, but broke regulations when he showed up to work drunk. Magua goes on and on.
  • Eventually, Cora tells him to stop playing games and tell her what he's after.
  • He wants to make her his wife and drag her out to the woods to "live in his wigwam forever."
  • Cora is overcome with "powerful disgust," but manages to hide it well.
  • Magua promises he will spare the prisoners' lives if Cora assents to his proposal. He is quite pleased with himself: "The daughter of Munro would draw his water, hoe his corn, and cook his venison. The body of the gray-head would sleep among his cannon, but his heart would lie within reach of the knife of le Stubil."
  • Magua dismisses her and rejoins his comrades.
  • Cora goes back to Heyward and Alice, who immediately demand to know the details of her conversation. Cora resists giving a full rundown, as she does not want to disturb Alice.
  • Magua approaches his comrades, who are described as "lolling savages […] gorged with their disgusting meal, lay stretched on the earth, in brutal indulgence." He gives them a long speech in their native language. He reminds them of all the challenges and sacrifices they have undergone, and how many of their fellow Indians have died. He describes their current poor condition, and asks if they are meant to endure this.
  • All the prisoners are tied to a tree, because things weren't bad enough before.
  • The Hurons begin preparing various methods of torture.
  • Magua approaches Cora and again asks for her answer. He points out the cruel deaths that await both her and her sister if she says no.
  • Heyward asks her to elaborate on the conversation. Cora refuses. Alice begins to cry. Cora finally explains the situation to her sister. Cora describes it as a fate worse than a thousand deaths, and asks Alice to make the decision for her.
  • After a long period of sadness, during which Alice looks like "some beautiful emblem of the wounded delicacy of her sex, devoid of animation, and yet keenly conscious."
  • She tells Cora that it is better they die together.
  • A pissed off Magua hurls his tomahawk at her, and it slices off some of her hair and embeds itself in the tree trunk.
  • Heyward's body floods with adrenaline, he breaks free of his bounds, and grapples with another incoming attacker. The Indian is about to kill Heyward when, out from nowhere, comes the sharp sound of a rifle. The Indian falls dead.