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
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.