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Free Study Guide - Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

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COLD MOUNTAIN FREE ONLINE STUDY GUIDE / NOTES

QUOTATIONS - IMPORTANT QUOTES AND ANALYSIS

[Note: Page numbers are from the paperback, Vintage Contemporaries Edition, 1998.]

1.) “It is difficult to believe in the dreadful but quiet war of organic beings, going on in the peaceful woods & smiling fields -- Darwin, 1839 journal entry” (coverleaf)

This first of two quotes from the coverleaf describes the concept of survival of the fittest in nature. However in the context of Cold Mountain, “organic beings” can be expanded to include humans and what they must endure in a setting that would appear pastoral to a casual observer.

2.) “Men ask the way to Cold Mountain, Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail --Han Shan” (coverleaf)

The second quote from the coverleaf refers to Cold Mountain Temple. Han Shan, the T’ang Dynasty poet-recluse and Buddhist monk whose name means “Cold Mountain”, is pronouncing that though the path is difficult and indirect, Cold Mountain can be attained. This has obvious parallels both physically and spiritually to the Cold Mountain of Frazier’s novel.

3.) “Cold Mountain, all its ridges and coves and watercourses. Pigeon River, Little East Fork, Sorrell Cove, Deep Gap, Fire Scald Ridge. He knew their names and said them to himself like the words of spells and incantations to ward off the things one fears most.” (p.16)

This quote follows Inman’s reading from Bartram, the pioneer naturalist of the late 1700’s. Frazier, like Bartram, calls forth the beauty and power of the landscape. Inman uses Bartram and his own memories of Cold Mountain to bolster his endurance and drive him toward home.

4.) “Earth has not anything to show more fair. Dull would be the soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty.” (p. 54)

Ada’s father, while driving through the mountains, proclaimed this quote from Wordsworth. It is another example of how the mountain acts as a main character and influences the other characters’ actions and emotions.

5.) “this journey will be the axle of my life” (p. 71)

This is from Inman’s thoughts and shows his own insight into the fact that his entire future revolves around the outcome of this endeavor.

6.) “The crops were growing well, largely, Ruby claimed, because they had been planted, at her insistence, in strict accordance with the signs.” (p. 134)

This exemplifies the intimate relationship the mountain people have with the land. Descriptions of these old ways of working are abundant and evidence that Frazier had much research behind his writing.

7.) “Just general trees is all? You’ve got a long way to go.” (p. 289)

Spoken by Ruby to Ada, this contrasts the two women, but it falls in a scene that shows that Ada is interested in and trying to learn nature’s ways. It also illustrates the growing friendship between Ada and Ruby.

8.) “Needing and getting don’t seem likely to match up any time soon... What needs doing is mine to do.” (p. 305)

Ada’s words sum up the melancholy mood of the novel and also show Ada’s progress toward self-mastery.




STUDY QUESTIONS / ESSAY TOPICS / BOOK REPORT IDEAS

1. Why don’t the Swangers take Ada in and/or take care of her?


2. Give examples where Native American or old life ways are presented as valuable.


3. What does this book say about the author’s opinions of the Civil War?


4. Do you agree that the landscape can influence actions and emotions? Why or why not?


5. Give examples of mountain language that support the geographic and time settings.


6. What is the function of the epilogue?


7. Speculate on what might have happened had Inman killed Veasey.


8. What personality trait is most responsible for Inman’s successful odyssey? Elaborate.


9. Do you feel that Inman was successful? Why or why not?


10. What changes does Inman go through on the course of his journey?


11. What changes does Ada go through?


12. Explain what is meant by “The comeliest order on earth is but a heap of random sweepings.” (chapter 1)


13. Contrast the above quote with “We mark some days as fair, some as foul, because we do not see that the character of everyday is identical.” (chapter 1)

14. Stobrod plays his fiddle to please himself and any that happen to hear him. Explain how his music sums up the mountain culture.

15. Discuss Cold Mountain as a Civil War novel.


16. Discuss Cold Mountain as a novel about mountain traditions.


17. Choose a theme from the novel and give specific scenes and/or events that illustrate that theme.

 

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Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier Free BookNotes Summary


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Cassie, D. L.. "TheBestNotes on Cold Mountain". TheBestNotes.com. . 11 May 2008
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