Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Turner (1997) continuously emphasizes the connection

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American nation was developing in unique conditions, peculiar in both cultural and geographical sense: ‘The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development’ (Turner).

European nations were developing within a limited territory; expansion of a nation occurred through conquering other peoples and subjecting them to the nation’s rule. On the contrary, American institutions and society were themselves evolving to meet constantly changing conditions: the ‘expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character’ (Turner).

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American institutions were therefore facing the pressure to expand in order to meet demands of people migrating westwards (Lind). This phenomenon continued and intensified as long as Americans were finding new homes in the west.

Frontier is characterized as the line of fast and enduring Americanization. The philosophy of early American development implies changing ‘primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life’ (Turner).

However, Slotkin (97) notes that the frontier provided Americans with opportunity to illustrate their fast adaptability to changing lifestyle and environment. This is illustrated by the willingness to face the challenges that were being faced in the new lands out west, where human settlement had never been in such huge scale.

Therefore, the central conflict of the frontier era is between nature and culture, between savagery and civilization. This conflict is also central to the classical frontier romance ‘Last of the Mohicans’ by James Fenimore Cooper. This paper will separately explore the dynamic of ‘Americanization’ of male and female characters.

Male characters will be analyzed along the continuum from the character stuck in the European values and way of seeing the world (Gamut) through a character that is ready to accept and to learn from the frontier experience (Major Heyward) to the character that feels comfortable with the hybrid identity (Hawkeye). As concerns female character, Cora and Alice will be analyzed as an opposition of a new mixed American identity and classic European whiteness.

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