Interracial Friendship In Cooper's Books
The embodiment of Cooper’s desire to show the ability of an unyielding alliance to form between those so different occurs after the passing of Uncas. Chingachgook and Hawk-eye heavily mourn his passing and remember him over the young warrior’s grave. Hawk-eye embraces Uncas in his memory as a brother although they are of different races. By mentioning Hawk-eye’s heartfelt tribute to Uncas, Cooper creates tones of interracial love and friendship. While in this instance Cooper may not have been able to do more than just mingle the two races, the close interracial friendship is progressive enough for the time period he wrote this in. There were numerous laws against the amalgamation and miscegenation between the whites and the. Indians during Cooper’s time period due to the common belief of European supremacy and inequality in those of color.
Cooper’s attitude towards whiteness being a racial identity is reflected in his work. During a confrontation with the Mohicans, Cooper constructs Hawk-eye’s character by commenting “I am not a prejudiced man, nor one who vaunts himself on his natural privilege, though the worst enemy I have on earth, and he is an Iroquois, daren’t deny that I am genuine white” (82). Cooper develops subtle tones of stereotyping in this dialogue. Hawk-eye presumes that he does not take advantage of his privilege, yet he clearly reaps in the benefits from it. He acts as a powerful figure of authority in front of the Mohicans and advocates that he does not make use of his privilege whilst having the advantage to act rudely towards the. Mohicans without any repercussions for his actions. Cooper underlays the significance of the advantages of belonging to a racial identity that is powerful and supremacist. Hawk-eye’s intention to show that he is not racist nor prejudiced also represents the white person’s privilege during this time period. Cooper utilizes Hawk-eye’s devotion to the Mohicans to overlook this flaw. Cooper specifically curates Hawk-eye’s whiteness as different from other white men during this time, and as supportive of those that are of a different race than him.
Similarly, in Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, she showcases her power and status over the Indians who kidnapped her, by calling them vile names like “infidels, pagans, and barbarous creatures” (270-272). However, Rowlandson begins to sympathize with her captors, citing that God must have intended for her to be helpful for the Indians. Rowlandson comes around to the idea of tolerating the Indians, and she begins to understand their reasons and ways of living. Through the use of friendship and understanding, both Cooper and Rowlandson create unlikely bonds between the white people and the Indians.
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