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Free Study Guide - Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

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CHAPTER 9 to live like a gamecock


As Inman and Veasey are walking, they see a fine crosscut saw, apparently left while the woodcutters break for dinner. Veasey steals the saw expecting to sell it. They meet a man who is trying to figure out how to get a bull carcass out of the creek, which is his water supply. The man has Inman and Veasey help him try to pull the bull out with a rope. They cannot. Then Veasey has the idea to use levers to move the bull. Veasey and the man use the stolen saw to cut poles to use as levers. With the levers they could lift the bull a bit, but could not move it. Finally, Inman used the saw to section the bull and remove it from the creek piece by piece. The man invites Inman and Veasey to have supper and sleep at his home. In return, Inman insists the man take the saw.

The three walk down the road, Inman, Veasey, and Junior, as the man is called. Junior tells stories about his prize gamecocks and about how women used to fling themselves at him. He shares a bottle that he has stashed in the woods. The liquor goes to Veasey’s head and he begins to think that to live like a gamecock sounds grand. Junior explains that now he is married to a known slut and he lives with her, her two sisters, and three children of unknown paternity.

Junior’s house has partially fallen off its foundation and sits at a slant. Being inside is disorienting for Inman and Veasey, the latter who is so drunk he falls asleep on the bed. Junior goes off and Inman is left with Junior’s depraved wife, Lila, who leads him out back to a huge fire circle. She and her sisters offer Inman a strange drink that all but incapacitates him. Lila then takes Inman back into the house and offers herself naked to him on the table. At that moment Junior returns. He has brought the Home Guard. They force a mock wedding between Lila and Inman who can barely form words. They then turn Inman and Veasey over to the Home Guard.

Inman and Veasey are tied to a string of fifteen other prisoners and walked eastward for several days. In addition to being given no food, Inman despairs over the loss of the westward miles he had accomplished. One night they stop and the Guard decides the prisoners are a waste of time. The prisoners are all shot.

Inman is struck in the side of the head with a bullet that has passed through, and therefore been slowed by, Veasey’s shoulder. Inman falls to the ground barely conscious and is buried in a shallow grave with the rest of the murdered prisoners.

In the wee hours, Inman is unearthed by wild boars plowing around. He is able to cut his bindings on a sharp stone and, though barely able, walks westward once more. He tires quickly and unable to choose a direction, sits to rest at a crossroad. A slave passing by offers Inman a melon and a ride to a hiding place on his master’s farm. Fed by the slaves and resting hidden under the hay for days, Inman regains some strength. He is given a fine hand-drawn map and some advice about how to avoid Federal raiders and sets out.

Inman returns to Junior’s slanted house. He finds his pack and gun right where he left them. Junior is in the smokehouse when Inman enters. Inman clubs him with the gun and leaves him bleeding on the ground.

Inman walks on following the map from the slave. Eventually he stops to rest and falls asleep while watching crows taunting a snake.


Inman feels no particular sorrow over Veasey’s death. He has seen so much random killing that he views death insensitively. Out of respect he turns Veasey’s body face down. Finding himself back in the pine flats where he thinks ill of both the landscape and the people, Inman goes after Junior. His attack seems more a matter of duty than vengeance. He fears he has become no less base than other men.

At the chapter’s end we again see the symbol of the crows. This time it is Inman noting the crow’s ability to escape or stay to taunt their enemies at will. Like his hat that was as the shadow of a crow inspiring Inman to freedom as a boy in Chapter 1, crows once again cause him to dream of escape. Though Inman dreams of being like the crows he is left only with his ability to endure.


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Cassie, D. L.. "TheBestNotes on Cold Mountain". . 09 May 2017