The Pathfinder was written 13 years after Natty Bumppo had ended his career in The Prairie. Cooper had questioned the wisdom of reviving this hero, and he was at the time engaged in fierce litigations with newspapers. The adventures of the plot on the water take authority from the fact that Cooper had as midshipman actually seen service on Lake Ontario.
The Pathfinder shows Natty at his old trick of guiding tender damsels through the dangerous woods, and the siege at the blockhouse and the storm on Lake Ontario are considerably like other of Cooper's sieges and storms. Natty, in this novel commonly called La Longue Carabine, keeps in a hardy middle age his simple and honest nature, which is severely tested by his love for a young girl. She is a conventional heroine of romance. A certain soft amiability about her turns for a time all the thoughts of the scout to the world of domestic affections. More talkative than ever before, he reveals new mental and moral traits. With the same touch of realism which had kept Uncas and Cora apart in The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper separates these lovers, and sends Natty's romantic interest to the arms of a younger suitor, restoring the hero to his home in the wilderness.