So who is Natty Bumppo? Described in The Pioneers as being "six feet tall in his moccasins, thin and wiry, with grey eyes, sandy hair, a large mouth and rather heavy eyebrows," Natty appears physically as a cross between his best friend, the Indian Chingachgook, and his nemesis, Judge Temple. This juxtaposition is well-intentioned; critique James Wallace writes that Cooper wanted Natty "to combine a popular tradition of the eloquence of Indian oratory with the garrulity of a frontier character."
In light of his dual identity, Natty is Cooper's vehicle for the expression of the author's personal views about the mores of eighteenth and early nineteenth century America. Throughout The Leatherstocking Tales, Natty agrees with Cooper's concept of a firmly class-structured society. He dislikes the French, the Iroquis, and Catholics, and shows disdain for miscegenation. Nonetheless, Natty holds his own apart from his creator. Filled with contradictions, Natty combines "the soul of a poet with the nature of a redneck." He craves companionship yet trusts no one, is used by all yet owes nothing to anyone, and craves traditional society while fearing and despising civilization. In the words of literary critique Duncan Heyward, Natty is "a noble shoot from the stock of human nature, which never could attain its proper elevation and importance, for no other reason than because it grew in the forest" (mohicanpress).