What leads man to abuse the bounty of nature, to fight the wilderness as if it were an enemy rather than a resource to be protected and respectfully utilized? In The Pioneers it seems that material progress requires exploitation and cruelty, as well as the sacrifice of spiritual values. Clearly Cooper wishes that man could coexist with nature and all its creatures in a balance that respects the cycles of life. He holds the ideals of preservation of the land along with wise use of its resources. Natty says, I took my leave of the waste and wickedness of the settlements; he is a voluntary exile from his beloved forests. But Nattys defiance is both heroic and useless, for in the end the American frontier experience that Cooper describes in his novels is one of conquering the wild and civilizing it even to the detriment of its bounty and beauty.