Uncas, Heyward, and Hawkeye make their way through the forest, dodging bullets shot by scattered Hurons, who defend the woods between the two villages with a method of guerilla warfare. Heyward advocates a sharp advance against the Huron lines, but Hawkeye says that Heyward will have to fight like the Delawares, as this is the only way to beat the Hurons—using guerilla methods, hiding under branches, and engaging the enemy in short spurts.
Heyward has begun to learn how effectively to fight natives in the wilderness: primarily, by adopting their battle methods and techniques. Thus, Heyward, in sharp distinction to the English style of battle, attempts to hide himself, to shoot in brief bursts, and otherwise to move his way quickly around the enemy’s position.
After moving forward and running up against Huron opposition, however, Heyward and Hawkeye hear shots fired from behind enemy lines, and recognize Chingachgook and Munro, who have been hiding in the woods away from danger—the two are making a rearward move against the Hurons, trapping the Hurons between the Delawares and killing many. Chingachgook and Uncas and Hawkeye exchange hellos, and Munro and Heyward greet each other after their separation of many days. The band makes plans, along with the Delawares, for another move against the Huron lines.
It is not exactly clear where Munro and Chingachgook have been the past several days, but the intimation in the novel is that they have simply been lying low, waiting to be reunited with the rest of the band, and, of course, waiting also to hear about Cora’s and Alice’s fate. Munro appears relieved to find that Alice is safely with Heyward, but, naturally, worries about what will become of Cora.
The Delawares push farther into the Huron village, and encounter Magua, who does his best to defend the Huron encampment, although the Delawares, having now overpowered the Hurons, kill many with tomahawks. Uncas catches sight of Magua and pursues him up a rocky hill; Heyward and Hawkeye see the white robe of Cora, who is also fleeing up the hill, and run after her. Uncas drops his rifle and prepares to fight Magua with his bare hands.
Cora’s white robe is best read symbolically in this scene. White often embodies purity, and here, Cora is en route to a life lived with Magua, a life lived away from the people to whom she was born. Perhaps Fenimore Cooper is a bit heavy-handed in this sequence of the novel, but nevertheless the crisis and drama are palpable.
Heyward, Hawkeye, and Uncas find that two Huron warriors are in fact carrying Cora up the rocky hill, and that Magua is with them, directing the warriors toward “his wigwam” out in the wilderness. On the hill, Magua demands that Cora choose either to become his wife, finally, or to die. Cora says she will not marry Magua, and Magua raises his knife to stab her. But he lowers his weapon, unable to do the deed; at this, one of the Huron warriors, agitated, stabs and kills Cora while Magua looks on.
A terrible scene. It is notable that, until the very end, Magua wants to take Cora for his bride, and ultimately is unable to make himself kill her. He really did have feelings of a kind for her, adding to his complexity
Uncas rushes to separate this Huron from Cora, and, with his back exposed, and weaponless, Uncas is stabbed by Magua multiple times, and killed. Heyward and Hawkeye then pursue Magua, who jumps from ledge to ledge on the cliff on the far side of the hill. Hawkeye aims his Kildeer and, with Magua hanging onto a ledge, trying to escape, shoots Magua, knocking him off the ledge and causing him to fall to his death. Heyward and Hawkeye run to the bodies of Cora and Uncas, both lifeless.
A final “victory,” however qualified, for Hawkeye. It is notable, too, that Magua’s death occurs largely “off-stage,” that he falls to his demise, rather than bleeding before Hawkeye and the remainder of the band. Magua body is not recovered, and there is no burial for him depicted—he will be mourned by the Huron villagers elsewhere.