Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the prairie

A few days ago I finished reading The Prairie by James Fenimore Cooper. Grandpa gave me that book a few years ago after he and Grandma took a meandering trip westward along Lewis and Clark's route through the American West. He picked it up along the way. I didn't read it until now.

The main character is in this book quite an old man, but Cooper alludes to different parts of his life as told in the previous books, of which I have read only The Last of the Mohicans. The character is one Natty Bumppo, a man of the frontier, a warrior, woodsman, and wanderer. In this book he is referred to only as "the trapper", with but a single mention of the initials of his proper name. He is above all honorable and unassuming. The bit about his identity though... In each of the books, he is something else to the people around him and he is called by their perceptions. Near the end of his life, this man of few possessions, having lived such an unfettered existence as God gives the grass of the field, asks for a stone on his grave, bearing his name. His name, used so seldom in his life--it does not appear in this book--is treasured and protected as the very center of his identity.

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