Killing of Animals in “The Pioneers”

In Cooper’s “The Pioneers”, the act of killing animals is discussed between the characters from two different perspectives. The first perspective is from Judge Temple who is a wealthy man and owns the area of land that has been settled by the characters in the story. Judge Temple thinks of hunting firstly as a sport. He doesn’t care whether he shot the meat he brings home for dinner or he bought it off another hunter. What he does care about though is being able to boast about his kills as is evident when he says “but what will requite me for the lost honor of a buck’s tail in my cap? Think, Natty how I should triumph over that quizzing dog, Dick Jones,” (Cooper, 9). Another instance where Judge Temple and the other villagers reveal how they see hunting only as a past time and a way to express their superiority over other living creatures is the pigeon hunting passage. They bring out the old cannon and load it with “several handfuls of duck-shot” (Cooper, 250) and shoot the cannon into one of the enormous flocks of pigeons that flew over the field and kill a very large number of birds, which they have no intention of eating.
The other perspective of killing animals is revealed through the character of Natty, the solitary hunter. Natty thinks of hunting as a way to feed himself and nothing more. He prides himself on his shooting ability and how he only kills what he intends to eat. Natty embodies the idealistic view of Native American hunters many people today hold because he uses the animals he kills for food and to make clothing and other necessities out of their hides and he doesn’t waste the animal’s body. He condemns the pigeon hunting and describes the townspeople’s actions as a “wasty manner” (Cooper, 251). Natty’s character reveals a very conservationist mindset which was unusual for the time period.

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