The DeerSlayer: Chapters 22-23

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Summary – Chapters Twenty Two and Twenty Three
Judith wants to talk to Hetty alone and they agree to get in a canoe to do so. Judith says they have to think of the future and Hetty says she wants them to stay. Judith points out how dangerous it is and tells her they must move to the settlements. Hetty responds by saying Judith will marry and the man can take care of them. Judith now says she wishes this could happen – as she would like to stay in the woods too – but there is no such man. She adds that there is one, but does not expand on her thoughts and then explains she will not be marrying Hurry.
 
Judith tells her that they should find out more about their family and look in the chest. The conversation turns again to Judith marrying and she asks Hetty what she thinks of having Deerslayer as a brother-in-law.
 
As they return to the ark, Judith sees a canoe passing behind the castle. Hetty says she saw it earlier, but thought it was not right to speak of such things over their mother’s grave. She thinks it is Deerslayer and as he approaches the ark they see it is him. The women intercept him and he explains how he has come to be there. He tells them he is out on furlough and his captors have his promise that he will return tomorrow at noon. He will do this and thinks he has little chance of escape.
 
In Chapter Twenty Three, the action has shifted to the castle where Deerslayer examines Hutter’s gun and Judith tells him he can have it. After their meal, Deerslayer tells them why he has come back. He says how the enemy think they have everything on and around the lake in their mercy. They have sent Deerslayer to tell Chingachgook that he has done well for a beginner and he may return to his own villages and they will not follow his trail. Wah-ta! –Wah, on the other hand, must return to them as ‘she carried away, by mistake, that which does not belong to her’. By this they mean she has taken away the young man’s ‘inclinations’. Judith reminds them that she (Wah-ta! –Wah) also has ‘inclinations’.
 
The next message concerns Hetty and Judith. They are told the Huron huts are better than those of York and they wish them to come and try them. Wah-ta! –Wah gives her response and says she has one heart and it can only love one husband. Chingachgook gives the message that he is keeping her with him. Hetty’s response is that the lake is hers and Judith’s and they will not leave it. Their mother also used to say they should only live with other Christians. She says she will come to them again, though, and read the Bible.
 
When Judith comes to give her response, she first asks what effect their answers will have on Deerslayer (at the hands of the enemy). He says this is more or less impossible to answer. She says she will give her response to the demands after talking to him alone.
 
Hurry leaves at 9 pm and only Hetty shows her concern for him and he shakes her hand. Deerslayer goes with in the canoe and advises him and the officers of the garrison to stake out the Huron camp first. Hurry questions Deerslayer’s decision to return to the enemy and Deerslayer replies that this is his promise: ‘The words are said to the ears of the Almighty.’ That is, he sees it as his Christian duty to keep his word. When they reach the land and Hurry walks off, Deerslayer thinks back to how this is the same spot that he first laid eyes on the lake.
 
Analysis – Chapters Twenty Two and Twenty Three
The promise that Deerslayer has made to return to the enemy camp is made much of in these chapters. The reiteration of this point has the effect of highlighting again how much he believes in the notion of honor, and this is connected to his whiteness. Yet again, then, this racist element of the novel must be challenged as must the inconsistency of the characterization of Deerslayer. The concept of honor has already been described as an aspect of Native American cultures, but here it is seen to be associated with his white skin.
 
 
 

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