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James Fenimore Cooper’s Early Novels: The Creation of American Identity in The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
The Last of the Mohicans
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In the early period of the new republic, many people had difficulty in recognizing their own culture and their national identity. In a sense, Americans at that time were facing a post-colonial crisis of knowing who they were. During the early nineteenth century, James Fennimore Cooper committed himself to help Americans find their cultural identity. He wrote many novels, among which The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans were the most well-known, to help his people realize the significance of their history and culture. This thesis aims to explore the creation of American identity in The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans from both colonial and post-colonial perspectives. Cooper tried to make Americans realize that Native Americans and American landscape were the features of American life. However, when Cooper tried to consolidate the American identity by exalting the settlement experience and justifying the westward expansion, he unconsciously revealed the mindset of Manifest Destiny and white supremacy. Thus, his novels became another type of imperialist narrative.
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