Thursday, February 3, 2022

Review of "Classics Illustrated: The Deerslayer," by James Fenimore Cooper

 Review of

Classics Illustrated: The Deerslayer, by James Fenimore Cooper

Five out of five stars

Excellent abridgement of a classic American novel

In the popular depictions of the battle between Native Americans and those of European extraction, the taking of scalps of dead enemies is nearly always restricted to the Native Americans. One of the most significant features of the Cooper writings is that he openly mentions that the Europeans also scalped their dead foes. The hero of this story is Natty Bumppo, known to his friends as Deerslayer. When one of his companions states, “The Governor’s raised the price on Indian scalps. Fifty pounds for each scalp you get.” Deerslayer’s response is, “No . . . scalpings out of my line.”

 As the Europeans began their inexorable movement northward in New York State, they encountered several Native American tribes. Some were much more warlike than others. That fact is also expressed in this comic. Both sides in the struggle are represented as sometimes being principled and other times being ruthless. For example, when the simple-minded white girl encounters the Native Americans, they do not harm her in any way.

 Popular media generally expresses the conflicts between Native Americans and those of European extraction in an extremely biased form. In “The Deerslayer” and his other works of this genre, Cooper expresses the complexity of the relationships between the Native Americans and the Europeans, some on both sides befriended the other at times, doing all they could to allow the two groups to live together peacefully. That principle is continued in this comic. It is a worthy addition to resources used to teach about the early expansion of the American colonies under British rule.

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