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Hawkeye (archetype)



Fenimore-Cooper’s character “Hawkeye” is an archetypal hero—born to white parents he is raised by Red Indians, hence he becomes a “walker in two worlds”. He is white by blood, biologically white, but culturally a red man (the conceit was picked up decades later by Rice Burroughs for his Tarzan, “lord of the apes”).


As a “walker in two worlds”, Hawkeye can go anywhere—he’s the white man with the red man’s knowledge who knows the territory like the back of his hand, and he combines Western technological knowledge, musketry and scientific thought, with native wisdom. So he is the dream package—supple like the Indians, but still with the Western rational edge.


Hence he is welcome anywhere, in the Indian camp or in the colonial stockade.


The role he plays in group dynamics is like so: the white men and the red men fight—they hate each other. However, Hawkeye works out that a bad white man or a bad red man—or a combination of both—works behind the scenes to bring the two “tribes” into conflict.


Because Hawkeye can walk in two worlds, he can unveil the unjust men who have brought the two groups into conflict, and so they can be reconciled—it’s a role only he can fulfil, otherwise the dark process is invisible to both sides.


The real world may not be exactly like that—groups have disputes that transcend “bad men behind the scenes”. But there’s some truth to it, and as mythology it satisfies: “We can all get along, if we could only find the bad actors behind the scenes that neither tribe can see because they’re fenced off into mutually exclusive territory—if only we had a hero to do that.”


Perhaps the modern liberal version is “there are no bad groups, only bad people” (although this segues into “there are no bad people, just misunderstood people).


Hawkeye is the “hermaphrodite”—he unites male and female, red and white; and so his position is initiatory (it reconciles opposites; he walks in two worlds, mundane and spiritual—as above, so below). He is like the high god Horus (the hawk) whose right eye is the sun and whose left eye is the moon (i.e. the male and the female). He has total power, is the prime god, and so can “go anywhere”—and see anything.


Horus looks into the hearts of men, regardless of their allegiances, and sees whether they work for ill or no. In other words, he has “eyes like a hawk” (Hawkeye).


This is not a literal description of events in every Fenimore Cooper novel, but it is close enough—it describes the archetype, the hero. The hero is in union with the Godhead—he combines male and female, he moves through any territory he chooses, and he sees through to the real intentions men conceal in their hearts.

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