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Free Study Guide - Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

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COLD MOUNTAIN FREE ONLINE STUDY GUIDE / NOTES

THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

The most outstanding theme is the desire for home. The entire story of Inman centers on this goal. When the landscape appears more like home, he is driven onward. When he thinks of being home with Ada, he perseveres. For Ada the desire for home is less physical. She is pursuing an emotional need to find her place in nature and to establish the feeling of being at home on the mountain.

Another major theme is that of endurance. It is clear that no matter what obstacle Inman is confronted with, he will go on. His longing for home and for Ada persist. He drives himself, unyieldingly, despite all dangers.

A less dramatic but more pervasive theme is manís relationship to the land. Humanity has a place in nature that aligns with the old life ways. Few, if any, contemporary readers thread beans to make leatherbritches or make home made harrow, yet these and other early nineteenth century practices are paid homage to in the writing of this book. There is a value in the old way of life where people depended on the land, limited desires, and made due with what nature provided.

A lesser theme is that of how the lives of soldiers and civilians alike are transformed by the war. The mountain people especially were caught between the two different economies of the war. Though they had no ties to either slave agriculture or industrial capitalism, their homes and lives were all but destroyed.


The theme of the danger of solitude is also presented. In scenes where Inman or Ada are left to their own thoughts, their moods degenerate and their thoughts become negative. They do battle with their own psyches that have been assaulted by loneliness. Also, the goat womanís thoughts and Inmanís views on her life exemplify this theme.


POINT OF VIEW

The point of view is that of limited omniscience, which alternates between the perspectives of Inman and Ada. As we see into the characters we find they each have a unique point of view about the significance of the land, but the poignancy of each nuance of nature prevails in their thoughts.

The unique point of view is that of Inman as a southern Appalachian man. The story is woven around the events of the Civil War, but the perspective of mountain people is seldom discussed in history books. Through Inman the reader sees the pointlessness of the killing by the Home Guard and the Federals, and the pain of the women who are alone as a consequence of the war.


COMPARISON TO THE ODYSSEY BY HOMER

The story and characters of Cold Mountain have certain parallels to The Odyssey of Homer. Inman, like Odysseus is a soldier/warrior who is battle-fatigued and is trying to get home. Further, each obstacle, each rogue, encountered along the way teaches the wayfarer more about himself. The patience, humility and endurance required confer upon him a worthiness of his goal. Meanwhile, Ada, like Penelope, faces problems of her own at home, and when Inman/Odysseus finally arrives, he finds suitors/Ruby vying for the attention of his beloved.

Homerís Iliad tells about the battles of the Trojan War. His Odyssey, as sequel, tells about wanting home and peace. Cold Mountain, as sequel to Inmanís Civil War battles, is the story of those same wants. This desire for home is the central theme that ties The Odyssey and Cold Mountain together.

 

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