full title · Cold Mountain
author · Charles Frazier
type of work · Novel
genre · Episodic novel, with a journey structure; romance
language · English, with inclusion of nineteenth-century Southern dialects
time and place written · 1997, North Carolina, U.S.
date of first publication · 1997
publisher · Grove/Atlantic
narrator · Third-person narration, usually according with the perspective of the characters leading the action.
point of view · The novel generally sticks with the protagonists’ (Ada’s and Inman’s) points of view, occasionally shifting to the perspective of other characters.
tone · Sometimes subdued and reserved, as the characters explore their feelings; often meditative and questioning, as Inman struggles with broader moral or spiritual concerns; occasionally lightly humorous to match characters’ good-natured wit.
tense · Immediate past
setting (time) · 1864, near the end of the Civil War; the novel refers to events that directy preceded the war and others that occurred decades before.
setting (place) · Virginia, before Inman journeys west to North Carolina. Half of the novel is set in the town of Cold Mountain where Ada lives.
protagonist · The male protagonist is Inman; the female protagonist, Ada.
major conflict · Both Ada and Inman struggle against the various circumstances—geographical, emotional—that separate them.
rising action · Inman flees prison and begins journeying toward Cold Mountain; simultaneously, Ada becomes friends with Ruby and learns to survive on her own.
climax · The major climax occurs when Inman has been shot by Birch, has a vision of dancing crows, and dies in Ada’s arms. This event is foreshadowed by Inman’s resurrection in “to live like a gamecock” where Inman is buried in a shallow grave and dreams of becoming a crow.
falling action · Ruby marries Reid. Ada is living at Black Cove with Ruby’s family and her nine year-old daughter, presumably by Inman.
themes · Isolation in the search for meaning; knowledge and intuition
motifs · Seasonal changes and rotations; the past
symbols · The crow; forked roads and crossings; dark-haired women
foreshadowing · Many natural events in the novel seem to foreshadow human events; the appearance of the crow often presages death. Inman survives being shot and buried by one team of Home Guard, only to be killed by another set of martial vigilantes.