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Free Study Guide - Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

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FREE LITERATURE SUMMARY / ANALYSIS - COLD MOUNTAIN

CHAPTER 5 like any other thing, a gift

Summary

Inman continues his journey along a narrow road at the edge of a cliff. He feels he could not make a stand against Home Guard here so he hurries. Ahead there is a man with a horse standing in the road. Inman approaches carefully and stops beside a boulder with his pistol drawn to observe the man.

The man lifts the body of a woman off his horse and is about to drop her over the cliff into the river. Inman runs out and stops him. He is rough and threatening with the man. The man is a soon to be married preacher who has gotten the woman pregnant. She is still alive but has been drugged.

Inman makes the man lead him to the town where the woman lives. When they arrive Inman gags the man with a kerchief and ties him to a tree. The woman is barely regaining consciousness as Inman carries her into her house. Her long dark hair and soft body make him think of Ada. He places her in her bed and tells her the preacher is no good. Then he goes back outside and writes a note about what happened and tacks it to the tree near the preacher.

Inman leaves, walking hard, but covers little ground before morning. He sleeps, and then begins walking again, extremely fatigued. He comes upon a camp of gypsies who take him in and feed him. Being entertained, Inman stays with them the remainder of the day. There is a dark-haired woman there and again he thinks of Ada. He goes off beyond the camp to read from Bartram and sleep. He dreams of Ada and the flowers he had just read about.

The next day Inman discovers that the gypsies had cleared out during the night. He then walks the entire day, cheered by the memory of his dream.


Notes

We see a slight softening of Inman in this chapter. As the terrain becomes more rolling he does not seem so bitter. In Chapter 3 he was full of despair and tried to kill the smith four times. Now, though he considers the preacher damnable and sees the merit in killing him, Inman chooses another solution. In addition, Inman’s spirits are comforted with his memories of Ada.


CHAPTER 6 ashes of roses

Summary

Ada and Ruby are working in the field when three women, six children and two slaves approach with their mule drawn wagon. The women’s husbands are off at the war and the Federals have raided and burned their house down. Ruby and Ada give them a hearty dinner and a place to sleep. In the morning they share breakfast and draw up a map so the travelers can continue their journey.

That noon, Ada and Ruby go to check on the apple orchard, bringing along a picnic lunch. Ruby quizzes Ada, a habit she has recently developed, to show Ada how lost and confused Ada is in the natural world. Ada envies Ruby’s knowledge and is slowly learning from her.

Ruby explains that she learned much from older women such as Sally Swanger. But she has learned the most by paying close attention to the workings of nature. Ada thinks Ruby has given a mind and a plan to each life form. As Ruby dozes, Ada walks to the edge of the woods watching and listening. She feels good about her world.

That evening Ada reads more from Homer’s Odyssey and recounts to Ruby the story of a party in Charleston. Ruby scoffs at the characters from both tales thinking that they wasted their lives on useless things.

Ada is just beginning to realize that within the landscape around her is “all the life there is” and she is a part of it.

Notes

As history shows, the women travelers have become stronger as a result of the war. They are beginning the process of self-knowledge and independence. Ruby, the epitome of self-sufficiency, is the role model for depending on those things opposite of things the other women have learned to live by.

Even Ada is coming around to the mountain ways. She does not understand, but still respects how Ruby behaves “in accordance with the signs”. Though she works in the fields and does her share of tending the animals, the reader still sees Ada in her Charleston finery, an anachronism not only in time but also in place. Her modern dress and hairstyles postdate the methods she must live by in the mountains.

There is also another reference to the Odyssey as we compare Ada’s situation with Penelope’s and Inman’s with Odysseus.

 

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