S-Space College of Education (사범대학) Center for Educational Research (교육종합연구원) 교육연구와 실천 Journal of the College of Education (師大論叢) vol.58/59 (1999)
미국 문학 소의 인종주의 : 쿠퍼의 『최후의 모히칸족』을 중심으로
Aspects of Racism in Fenimore Cooper' s The Last of the Mohicans
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 사범대학
- 사대논총, Vol.58, pp. 19-36
- Race has been a crucial determinant of the social order in America from the period of American colonization. Dispersed through every level of culture, ideas of race have served to define the social and political relationships of the various ethnic groups in American society. Race has never been a stable idea or a fixed concept. It has been invented, promulgated, and legislated to describe the racial order under different historical, political, and economic circumstances. Literature has played a key role in naturalizing and inscribing this process of racial formation. Fenimore Cooper’s The Lαst of the Mohicans is a case in point. The Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, typifies American attitudes toward race relations in the era of America’s westward expansion. Here Natty Bumppo, the celebrated hero of the Leatherstocking Tales, appears as the beau ideal of the frontiersman, who is agile, quick to find expedients, and well informed with the Indian ways and wilderness. His characteristic self confidence, and practical and inventive turn of mind along with these qualities certainly justify the mythologization of him as the American character. However, much of his skill and knowledge which allows him to be the most effective of the warriors in the wilderness is gained through his association with his Indian friends, Chingachgook and his son Uncas. Nevertheless, he continually identifies himself as "a man without cross." Natty’s emphasis on the purity of his blood line reflects the contemporary racial view shared by most whites that the pure and unmixed race is best. Underlying this is also the racial essentialism that whites are different from non-whites. This implies that the racial identity of Americans has been established by positing the native people as the inferior Other. The Indians, whether noble or ignoble, in The Last of the Mohicans are delimited by the special nature of their society. It is seen as a whole to be morally inferior and historically anterior to white civilization. The message that the Indian is doomed to die out before the superior moral and physical influence of whites is emphatically delivered by the end of the novel, where the "bad" Hurons are almost wiped out, and the "good" Indians lose their last remaining chief.