Inter-Marriage and The Last of the Mohicans, 1824-1992

Anna Scannavini


In this essay, I examine the literary status of intermarriage in the American literature of the 1820s. The essay covers a set of “Indian narratives” produced in that decade, focusing on four “Indian novels” that provide instances of trans-cultural sexual and/or sentimental encounters. The set includes novels by Lidia Maria Child (Hobomok), Catharine Sedgwick (Hope Leslie) and Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans, The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish). Leaning on the work done on domesticity and sentimental novels by women writers, I focus on how the outcomes of intermarriage are represented in each text. Specifically, I consider the ways of resistance and survival offered (or not offered) to trans-cultural families and their children. As a result, it can be argued that the examined authors do not produce a unique answer to the problem of intermarriage. What they all share, however, is the sense that a deeply human possibility of growth is lost with the Indian removal. In this sense, I conclude by comparing their work to Michael Mann’s 1992 The Last of the Mohicans to find that Mann’s approach is no great improvement on the ideology of the 1820s.


American Literature; Indian Novel; Intermarriage; Fennimore Cooper; Film;

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