During the course of this novel, Ada’s character matures dramatically. Critical of the self-interest displayed by Charleston society, Ada ultimately is able to conclude that her education has sheltered her from the real world. Used to burying her head in a book, she initially shies from romantic involvement. By the novel’s close, however, Ada has embraced both joy and pain. She has adapted to a life of manual labor, living according to the rhythms of nature. Ada has learned to find herself in the world by trusting in her intuition and heeding nature’s unspoken signs. Ada’s new existence thus requires her to have a deeper engagement with both the practical and emotional demands of life.

Ada’s reunion with Inman testifies to her newfound openness. She overcomes her initial feeling of estrangement by addressing her fears and hopes for the future. Having laid roots in the community of Black Cove, Ada admits to Ruby that she fears a solitary future. However, the stark topography around Cold Mountain offers her sanctuary from feeling marginalized and eccentric. This landscape, moreover, provides a homeland she can share with Inman. After Inman’s death, Ruby’s family and Ada’s own daughter continue to provide Ada with a source of emotional solace. In truth, Ada is not alone. Frazier demonstrates profound change in his female protagonist as she grows to find security living close to nature. In particular, the peaceful certainty of Ada’s domestic routine indicates her comfort with the natural world’s cycles and repetitions.