Analytical Discussion of "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier

The Journey is the Destination

The story of Cold Mountain is of a war and adventure across the mountainous terrain, but, most of all it is a love story. Before the blossoming love is torn by the separation of war, Ada and Inman venture into the woods together to say their goodbyes. There Inman recites to Ada a story told to him by an Indian woman. At the end of the story, Ada had nothing but a satirical remark regarding the validity of Inman’s tale. It wasn’t until later that she realized "that it had not been about an old woman but about his own fears and desires."(p 254) The moment in the woods made them recognize their differences. Their love for each other would not let them return to each others company until they had both settled their personal troubles.

The war left Inman wounded physically and spiritually. "Inman had seen so much death it had come to seem a random thing entirely. He could not even make a start at reckoning up how many deaths he had witnessed of late. It would number, no doubt, in the thousands. Accomplished in every custom you could imagine, and some you couldn’t come up with if you thought at it for days. He had grown so used to seeing death, walking among the dead, sleeping among them, numbering himself calmly as among the near-dead, that it seemed no longer dark and mysterious."(p 230) The death and violence that Inman saw and enforced upon those he met distanced him even more from the person he once was. Much of this was attributed to the many encounters he had with his own death. At every turn there seemed to some other way for him to die, and another possible way for him to escape it. Each encounter or thought of that day to be his last benefited him. He began to view the world around him in different light. The optimistic thought lasted but a minute, and he continually returned to his gloomy way of living. The image he now possessed disturbed him so much that he could not bear the sight of himself. "He looked down into a pool and caught sight of his visage looking up at him, wavery and sinister, and he immediately frabbled his fingers in the water...for he had no desire to look upon himself."(p 299)

There was slow progression to Inman’s scorn toward people and nature. As his journey continued, he found himself to treat those around him with more respect. No only was this apparent with the people he encountered, but it was also obvious with his reaction to nature. Not far into his journey, Inman’s confrontation with Junior’s three-legged dog showed his inhumanity toward the living. The dog "ran low to the ground and completely soundless on a trajectory straight to Inman... Before it got to him, Inman kicked and caught it under the chin with a boot toe. The dog collapsed and lay motionless in the dirt." (p 211) The dog was evidently not a threat to Inman, but he persisted to fight anything that wanted to challenge him. He showed persistence to harm animals again when he encounter the bear and its cub. Without wanting to kill the bear, he ended up doing so anyway. As a tender way to relieve the cub of its loss, he shot the cub, and killed it also. Although Inman’s actions do not seem to be improving the intentions of them show progress.

Unlike Inman, Ada’s journey is not mapped out. Her journey is within herself and her property to find the best in both. Ada’s life begins to fall apart after her father’s death. She did not possess many qualities that would give people a reason to like her. "Many of her friends had fallen away, finding her too bristly and eccentric."(p 66) Besides the absence of her social skills, a lady told Ada that she was the "most naive girl"(p 181) she had ever met.

Ada had lost more than a father when Monroe died. She also lost guidance. She depended upon her father to supply everything for her, including knowledge, and ways to think. The intelligence Ada had did not amount to